– Says attention beamed on offences with fines
– Rivers says it is working with FG to enhance prisons decongestion
The Federal Government says the committee set up on the directive of President Muhammadu Buhari has freed 126,500 inmates of various prisons in Nigeria so far.
The Attorney General of the Federation & Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN), who made this above disclosure said that the Stakeholders Committee on the Decongestion of Prisons was established following a directive of President Muhammadu Buhari to work with the Stakeholders and agencies of the criminal justice system to decongest the prisons.
He said that the Committee is working on the decongestion of the nation’s prisons without compromising national security.
The Attorney General of the Federation noted that the Committee would find immediate solutions to cases that require payment of fines, while working with other stakeholders for long term solutions.
The Nation’s Chief Law Officer added that 126, 500 inmates have already been released through the payment of fines for minor offences.
Malami noted that most of the inmates in Nigerian prisons are between 18years and 25 years, with most of them involved in drugs. He regretted that over 70 percent of the inmates were on awaiting trial for minor offences such as stealing of sugar cane and tubers of yams.
Also speaking, Chairman of the Stakeholders Committee on the Decongestion of Prisons and Chief of the FCT High Court, Justice Ishaq Bello said that the condition of Nigerian prisons is dehumanizing. He said the prisons terrorises the psyche of inmates.
Justice Bello said the prisons are so congested that inmates cannot find spaces to sleep or even sit properly. In his speech, the Rivers State Government said it was collaborating with the Federal Government to work towards the decongestion of the Port Harcourt Federal Prisons.
The two parties reached the decision after a courtesy visit to the Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike at the Government House Port Harcourt on Monday by the Stakeholders Committee on the Decongestion of Prisons led by the Attorney General of the Federation, Abukakar Malami (SAN) and the Chief Judge of the FCT High Court, Justice Ishaq Bello.
Governor Wike said that the Rivers State Government has already started the process of decongesting the Port Harcourt Prison, through the Chief Judge of Rivers State who released some inmates last year.He added that his office based on the advice of the Committee on the Prerogative of Mercy, released some prisoners.
He said: “The congestion of the Port Harcourt Federal Prison is a major concern. That is why the Rivers State Government has commenced the process of decongesting the prison. “Governance must be governance at all times. Therefore, we shall support the efforts of the Committee to decongest the prison”.
The governor said that the committee will succeed in the delicate assignment when it develops a system that will protect all the officials who will work directly in the process of prison congestion.
Governor Wike pointed out that the closure of the courts in Rivers State between 2013 and 2015 negatively affected the criminal justice system of the state, hence the prison situation.