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Commission urges review of Nigeria’s prisoners transfer agreements


Abuja  – The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has called for the review Nigeria’s prisoners transfer agreements with other countries to ensure optimal compliance with citizens’ fundamental human rights.
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The Executive Secretary of the commission, Prof. Bem Angwe, made the call at the opening ceremony of the 2015 Nigerian Prisons Reforms Conference held on Tuesday in Abuja.

Angwe, who said that prison transfers had further infringed on inmates’ rights, listed the challenges of Nigeria’s prisons to include undue delay in the trial of inmates as well as dilapidated and overstretched facilities.


“We are calling on the Federal Government of Nigeria to review the transfer of prisoners agreement existing between the country and some other countries today because of the rising human rights implications.

“What is happening is that most of these people who are being transferred back to Nigeria, have families in the countries where they are.

“Once they have come in conflict with the law and they are transferred back to Nigeria, they no longer have the opportunity to see their families.

“And when they come here, there will be no likelihood of them having the opportunities to return to those countries where they have been transferred from.

“This then means that they will no longer have an opportunity to visit their families, who are abroad and in the countries where many of them must have spent over 20 or 40 years.’’


In his remarks, the Minister of Interior, Lt.-Gen. Abdulraham Dambazau (rtd), decried the dilapidated state of Nigerian prisons, saying that they had been in the same condition for 27.

“27 years ago when I was conducting my PhD research, I was privileged to have been allowed access into quite a number of Nigerian prisons; some of the observations raised (now) are those things I saw 27 years ago.

“What that means is that things have not changed in our prisons and I think that we all have a duty to seize this opportunity of the change mantra of this administration to change things for the better.

“Most of the things we are talking about today actually have to do with the conditions of prisons and prisoners, whereby three quarters of the inmates in our prisons are those awaiting trial.”

On his part, Rev. Father Ambrose Ekeroku, the Executive Director, Carmelite Prisoners’ Interest Organisation (CAPIO), one of the conveners of the conference, said that CAPIO would work hard to ensure that prisoners’ rights were protected.

“I will only return to the monastery when the prisoners in Nigeria begin to get the attention they deserve.

“I will go back to the monastery when prisoners are treated as human beings and not like animals – the way they are treated today.

“The great Nelson Mandela did say that no nation should be judged by the way it treats its highest citizens, rather, nations should be judged by the way it treats the poor and lowly in the society.

“If you go to our prisons, they are in a sorry state of overcrowding, poor feeding, and lack of medicare.

“This `Minimum Standard of Treatment of Prisoners’ has been there, but we have not taken steps to implement the provisions of the law.”

Other stakeholders at the conference called for regular training and re-training of prison officers in addition to adequate funding of the judiciary and the Nigeria Police to ensure speedy trials and movement of inmates from the prison to the court. (NAN)

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