Over 80% of prison inmates are awaiting trial —CCC

IT has been revealed that more than 80 per cent of prison inmates are awaiting trials, owing to unwholesome criminal justice system in the country.

The development in a reason for the prevalence of jailbreaks of recent.

A report just released by the Centre for Crisis Communication (CCC) to mark its one year of dedicated service to the nation noted that ‘‘the Nigerian Prisons Service sits at the very heart of Nigeria’s security architecture  and should not be toyed with as the agency statutorily responsible for holding convicted offenders.’’

The Executive Secretary of the Centre, Air Commodore Yusuf Anas (retd), who made the report available to the media, on Wednesday, said the remaining 20 per cent represented convicted prisoners, stressing that apart from the convicted offenders, the prisons also provided abode for those who were still awaiting trials for various crimes and offences ranging from pick-pocketing to terrorism.

It noted that the prisons were, indeed, a very sensitive and important security institution which must be accorded its place of priority  and strategic importance in the overall interest of the society.

The Centre expressed dismay over reported cases of security breaches that led to attempted and actual prison breaks across the country, adding that an assessment of a number of Nigerian prisons revealed a dire situation across the various prison facilities in the country.

The Executive Secretary observed that apart from the obsolete and debilitating state of most of the prisons, there was an apparent shortage or inadequacy of the holding facilities resulting to congestion and, most times, over stretched with mostly awaiting trial inmates.

He called on the authorities to carry out reforms to make prisons across the country more  habitable,  noting that the staggering ratio of actual convicts to the awaiting trial inmates was indicative of a systemic failure in our criminal justice system.

Commodore Anas, while answering questions, said the Centre did not support the current agitation for the break up of the country as this would mean a setback of years of unity and progress enjoyed by Nigerians.

The  centre deplored the situation in Internally Displaced  Persons (IDP) camps across the country and called for unhindered  access to humanitarian activities from both government  and international donor agencies.

It, nevertheless, commended the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) for its relentless intervention on the plights of IDPs.