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Legal practitioners urge prison reforms


Abuja – Some legal practitioners in Abuja have urged the Federal Government to consider reforming prison facilities in the country.

In separate interviews with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Monday, the respondents decried the dilapidated state of the prison structures, noting that they were not fit for human habitation.

Mr. Ifeanyi Moses called for a comprehensive overhaul of prison facilities in order to make them the desired correctional centres.

According to him, most of the cells are in bad shape with leaking roofs.

He added that the goal of reformation of prisoners would be defeated, if nothing was done to address the issue of weak structures.

“The major problem is congestion; the centres are meant to punish and at the same time correct.“

According to him, instead of reforming the inmates, the prison hardens them.

Moses said that subjecting the inmates to horrible and degrading condition may only render them physically and psychologically unfit.
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This, he said, would also make them feel unwanted and abandoned by the society.

In his contribution, Mr Jude Kalejaiye urged the Federal Government to look into the cases of awaiting trial inmates across the country.

He said that some Nigerian prisons had done more harm than good to the inmates.

“Go to the prisons and see vibrant young men and women whose lives are wasting away because they are awaiting trial.

“Now, who are we actually rehabilitating? Is it the people who have not been convicted?

“How can we exercise the idea of rehabilitation here when majority of the inmates have not been convicted?

“In fact, the prisons in this country are more of torture chambers than rehabilitation centres.

“There is little or no provision for education or skill acquisition for the convicts, unlike what it used to be in the past.

“Sometimes, these people even come out worse than when they went there,” Kalejaiye said.

However, Mr Abbas Ndaji, a court Registrar, said that speedy dispensation of justice would help reduce the number of inmates in prisons.

Ndaji said that the Federal Government needed to do more by equipping the welfare departments of these prisons.

“Once convicted, it is assumed that some reform elements are impacted on you.

“The personnel of the Welfare Department should be well trained enough so that they are able to counsel these prisoners so that after they
are out, people will regain confidence in them.

He urged sitting Judges to dispense cases within the shortest possible time, to aid prison decongestion. (NAN)

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