Group identifies congestion as reason for jailbreaks

The Prisoners Rehabilitation and Welfare Action (PRAWA) has warned that congestion of Correctional Centres, was often responsible for jailbreaks.

The Executive Director of PRAWA, Dr Uju Agomoh, who disclosed this while addressing at a press conference organised by PRAWA in partnership with the National Civil Society Forum on Detention and Corrections on Friday in Abuja said that concerns have grown regarding the overcrowding of Nigeria’s correctional centres over the years.

The PRAWA boss said that Section 12 of the Nigerian Correctional Service (NCoS) Act, required notification of relevant authorities and prompt action to rectify overcrowding.

She said that the criminal justice system in Nigeria faces significant challenges to the prolonged detention of inmates and exacerbating overcrowding in correctional facilities.

She added that issues such as historical underinvestment, socioeconomic disparities, and weak judicial systems have resulted in inefficiencies and delays in the administration of justice.

According to her, in spite of the provisions of section 2(1) of the NCoS Act 2019.

“This in which designates the correctional service facilities as rehabilitation and reformation facilities for individuals who have been found to be in conflict with the law;

“The number of Awaiting Trail Persons (ATPs) far exceeds the number of convicted inmates, leading to congestion and hindering the implementation of rehabilitation programmes.

“Non-compliance with provisions of the law, such as the NCoS Act 2019, further complicates efforts to address overcrowding and improve conditions in correctional facilities.

“Statistical data demonstrates the significant strain on Nigerian Correctional facilities, with overcrowding being a pervasive issue.

”This overwhelms correctional facilities, compromising security and rehabilitation efforts.

“We therefore emphasise the importance of adhering to the provisions of Section 12 of the
Act, which requires the prompt notification of relevant authorities in cases of overcrowding
or capacity limitations within correctional centres, “she said.

The PRAWA boss said that it was imperative that state controllers, in conjunction with the correctional service, notify the Chief Judge, Attorney General, and other relevant bodies within the stipulated time frame to address overcrowding effectively.

She said “Upon receipt of notifications regarding overcrowding, the notified bodies must take
immediate and decisive action to rectify the situation within the specified timeframe.

“This may include the implementation of alternative sentencing measures to reduce inmate populations and alleviate overcrowding pressures, “she said.

Agomoh urged enhanced collaboration with relevant bodies such as the prerogative of Mercy committee, state criminal justice committee and administrative of criminal justice monitoring committee to address overcrowding and other systemic challenges.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that PRAWA is dedicated to promoting justice, human rights and penal reform in Nigeria.

NAN reports that no fewer than 119 inmates escaped from the Suleja Medium Security Centre following a rainstorm that damaged the facility on Wednesday, April 24.

The Suleja custodial facility was built in 1914 to house 250 inmates, before the incident, the facility had 499 inmates. (NAN)

Dr Uju Agomoh addressing the press on issues around overcrowding in custodial centres

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