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NGO calls for urgent action to reduce awaiting trial inmates

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By IBIRONKE ARIYO

ABUJA- The Prisoners’ Rehabilitation and Welfare Action (PRAWA) an NGO, has called for urgent and collective action to reduce the number of Awaiting Trial Persons (ATPs) in custody of the

The call is contained in a statement issued by the Executive Director, PRAWA, Dr Uju Agomoh, on Wednesday in Abuja.

Agomoh said that it was also important to note that some of the ATPs have had their cases stalled for many years.

She said that PRAWA identified with the Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola on his recent call for urgent decongestion of ‘Jails’ in Nigeria.

Agomoh said that PRAWA had followed prison reform efforts and trends in Nigeria for about three decades now.

She said that the major challenge of administration of corrections in Nigeria included issues of slow grinding wheels of the criminal justice trials.

This, she said included the resultant huge population of ATPs causing congestion, especially of custodial centers in metropolitan cities in Nigeria.

Agomoh said that some experts have also connected high number of awaiting trial population and the complications of congestion to the increased cases of jail breaks and growing dangerous trends of insecurity in the country.

She said, “th Nigerian Correctional Service NCoS portal daily records of inmate population speaks to the challenges at hand.

“A summary of inmate population by convict and awaiting trial persons provided on the portal as at October 3rd, 2022 is as follows:

“Total inmate population -75,635; total male inmates -74,029; total female inmates- 1,606; total convicted inmates- 22,488; convicted male inmates -22,488; convicted female Inmates – 402;

“Total awaiting trial inmates are 52,745; awaiting trial male–51,541; awaiting trial female- 1,204; convicted inmates 30 per cent; awaiting trial inmates -70 per cent; male inmates -98 per cent; female inmates- 2 per cent, ” he said.

Agomoh said that it was important to note that the percentage of ATPs reflected here was the statistics for all the correctional centers in Nigeria.

She said that the percentage was higher for some custodial centers especially those in urban areas adding that some of these centers have up to 85 per cent of ATPs.

“This calls for urgent action. PRAWA believes that there is need for urgent, sincere and intentional collective action towards addressing them.

“This is the time to put in place sustainable mechanisms to ensure effective and efficient implementation of the innovative provisions of the NCoS Act 2019.

“The NCoS should strengthen its strategies at partnering with relevant security and justice sector institutions and other stakeholders towards actualisation of the objectives of the NCoS Act, ” she said.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, SAN, said the Federal Government, through the Presidential Committee on Correctional Reforms and Decongestion, has freed over 10,000 inmates in the past four years.

Malami, who noted that the presidential committee was inaugurated on Oct. 30, 2017, said it was time for more attention to be focused on reformation of the juvenile justice system. (NAN)

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