70 per cent inmates on awaiting list ―FIDA

FEDERATION of Women Lawyers (FIDA) in Kwara state has raised the alarm that over 70 per cent of inmates in Nigeria prisons are on awaiting list.

Speaking with journalists at a workshop on the administration of criminal justice act (ACJA) in Ilorin, the chairperson of FIDA in the state, Hajia Salmat Muhammed, said that abuse of the administration of criminal justice act by officers of the country’s judicial system had compounded the issue.

The FIDA chairperson, who commended the government and the police authority for the provision of additional police stations in parts of the country, said that creation of more police stations and more prison facilities should be at same time.

She also called for more enlightenment campaigns on the ACJA to enable people to know their rights and how to pursue them, while calling on states of the federation to domesticate the act like Kwara state.

Hajia Mohammed said that people should know that every accused person should be taken to court within 48 hours after arrest, adding that the person should also be allowed to communicate with his/her lawyer as contained in the act.

She said that the act also stated that an accused person should not be remanded in police custody for more than 28 days before the person is charged to court.

The FIDA chairperson, who decried high rate of domestic violence in the state, said that the organisation had been able to check the trend through counselling.

Hajia Muhammed said that an average of seven victims of domestic violence was recorded in a week last year, adding that the statistics had drastically reduced in recent time, due to the intervention of the group.

“Our office was like a thriving hospital before this time. As one set was going out, another one would be coming into the office to report or seek redress and other consultation. But, we thank God, it has reduced to an average of one case in a week now”, she said.

The FIDA chairperson also explained that victims of domestic violence are not mainly women partners, saying that some men had reported violence allegedly meted on them by their female partners, adding that men had, however, not been coming forward to report cases of domestic violence.

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Also speaking, the Kwara state Chief Judge, Justice Sulaiman Kawu, who was represented by Justice Mohammed Adewara, commended activities of FIDA at resolving series of matrimonial cases in the state.

The CJ, who said that such cases had been done free of charge for women and indigent people in the society, called on members of the association not to relent in their effort towards achieving a more peaceful society.

In her presentation, titled, Institutional and policy reform around ACJA, solicitor general and permanent secretary, Kwara state ministry of Justice, Dr Mrs Maryam Mustapha, highlighted some aspects of the reform which prohibited arrest of suspects on civil wrongs that did not constitute the criminal case, among others.

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