Congested Prisons: Reps urge Nigerian Govt to grant amnesty to inmates

The House of Representatives has called on the Federal Government to use its power of prerogative of mercy to grant amnesty to deserving inmates to decongest correctional centres across the country.

While adopting a motion sponsored by Chinedu Ogah (APC, Ebonyi), the House also urged the Federal Ministry of Justice to prevent delays in justice dispensation in the country and enhance the process of meeting bail conditions.

The House wants the federal and state governments to implement comprehensive reforms of the country’s correctional system, including modernizing custodial centres, building new facilities, and redesigning the bail system.

The lawmakers also resolved to put in place appropriate legislation that will allocate time for the speedy dispensation of justice and reduce the number of inmates awaiting trial across the country, while examining the role of the federal and state governments in the correction of inmates.

Similarly, the House calls for sustainable, efficient solutions to address the congestion in 244 jails nationwide and the effective implementation of non-custodial measures, while devising and promoting effective reformation, rehabilitation, and reintegration of inmates.

Moving the motion, Ogah said the Nigerian prisons were mandated to reform, rehabilitate, and ensure effective reintegration of offenders into society in line with universally accepted standards.

He added that over 70,000 inmates in the country face inadequate facilities despite government efforts, and some have not been charged with criminal cases, while some are unable to pay the fines imposed by the courts despite having their cases determined.

According to him, the Nigerian criminal justice system is plagued by flaws, with cases often lingering without resolution for years, thus overcrowding the correctional centres in various geopolitical zones.

He said the data system reveals that federal offenders comprise less than 10 per cent of correctional system inmates, leaving over 90 per cent of state offenders.

He said overcrowding of the correctional facilities has led to a huge revenue drain for successive governments, leading to prison dilapidation, criminalization, and inability to separate awaiting trial inmates from convicted ones.

He said that implementing the criminal justice system and the adoption of non-custodial measures would effectively reduce the overcrowding of national prisons.

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