UYO- Mr Julius Ezugwu, the Controller, Akwa Ibom Correctional Service, has called for the decongestion of its facilities accommodating more than 2,000 inmates in the state
Ezugwu revealed that all the correctional centres in the state had a total of 2,851 inmates, of which only 451 were convicts, while 2,400 were awaiting trial.
He added that over 80 per cent of the inmates were awaiting trial.
The controller made the call during the Law Hub Development and Advocacy Centre workshop in Uyo on Wednesday.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the theme of the workshop was “Assessment of the Implementation of the Akwa Ibom Administration of Criminal Justice Law”.
Ezugwu urged the justice system to come up with solutions to decongest the facilities in the state.
He said the large number of inmates awaiting trial was responsible for the overcrowded centres.
“It is a problem as the centres were supposed to be a place to reform convicts and not take care of awaiting trial persons.
“We have a total of 2,851 inmates in the core facility of the command, that is Uyo, Ikot Ekpene, Eket and Ikot Abasi Local Government Areas.
“Out of that number, we have about 451 as convicts; the rest are awaiting trial persons.
“They are products of the criminal justice administration and I want to say that the correctional service had been doing its own part creditable.
“We have more than is provided for by the Administration of Criminal Justice System (ACJS) in Akwa Ibom.
“Every quarter, we ensure that we send our returns of awaiting trial persons to the office of the Attorney General of the State and the Chief Judge of Akwa Ibom.
“With this workshop, all the members of the ACJS will be well informed of how to go about the challenges of overcrowding in our facilities and also make justice accessible to all the teeming inmates.
“I enjoin you to look deep and help us ensure we will be able to deliver on our mandate of humane containment of this unit because when we have more than 80 per cent of inmates awaiting trial, it becomes a problem.
“The correctional service is for the reform of convicts and not awaiting trial persons. The situation where we have a predominance of awaiting trial persons would be a challenge to all the agencies in the criminal justice system.
“I don’t see the awaiting trial persons as our property,” he stated.
In declaring the workshop open, Chief Judge of Akwa Ibom, Justice Ekaette Obot, said the domestication of the Administration of the Criminal Justice Act by the Criminal Justice Law of Akwa Ibom would have great impact on the criminal justice in the state.
Obot, who was represented by Justice Edem Akpan, said for the functionality of the law, she had issued a practice direction for the relevant usage and operations of the law by all the stakeholders in the legal community.
She, however, stated that the inability to enforce some sections of the law, made it impossible to enjoy the benefits of the law as was intended, as such, she planned to inaugurate the administration of criminal justice monitoring committee.
“In acknowledgement of the fact of the inoperative sections of the criminal administration justice law, I have put every arrangement in place to inaugurate the monitoring committee on the Oct. 17, to carry out the statutory role as specified in the law.
“It is for the reason for the inoperative sections of the law that has made this workshop very timely, to enhance effective application of all the sections of the law by the practitioners.
“I believe this workshop would diligently access how far Akwa Ibom has fared in implementing and also enhance the implementation of that law.
“I also believe the workshop would proffer solutions for better enhancement and effective implementation of overriding benefits of all sectors, and all the stakeholders,” She stated. (NAN)