Congestion fueling jailbreaks, rights abuses in correctional centres – PCC warns
Following the congestion in the country’s Correctional Centres, the Public Complaints Commission (PCC), has tasked the Chief Judge of Ekiti State, Justice John Adeyeye and the Nigerian Correctional Service (NCS) to seek solutions.
The PCC opined that congestion of Correctional Centres, was often responsible for the twin evils of jailbreaks and human rights abuses in prison, especially as related to awaiting trial inmates.
The PCC Commissioner, Ekiti State office, Mr. Kayode Bamisile, said this in Ado Ekiti, on Wednesday, during his visit to Justice Adeyeye and the Controller, Correctional Centre, Ekiti Command, Mr Joseph Ojo, in their respective offices.
In his submissions during the separate visits, Bamisile said the PCC felt disturbed and is seeking partnership with stakeholders to fashion ways to curb infringement of inmates’ rights and reduce incessant jailbreak that had brought opprobrium to Nigeria’s image globally.
Bamisile lamented that; ” Records showed the Ekiti Correctional Centre has a total of 668 inmates, comprising 524 awaiting trials, 130 convicted, 13 on life sentences and one on death roll.
“Ordinarily, this centre shouldn’t contain more than 323 inmates. Let me express here that this Commission would collaborate with relevant government functionaries to make sure that we decongest this centre”, Bamisile stated.
In his response, the Chief Judge, Justice Adeyeye, hinged the preponderance of prisons’ congestion in the country on poor logistics hitting the NCC, causing a delay in conveying the accused persons to courts for speedy trials.
Justice Adeyeye said, “Let me appreciate the interest of the PCC in Prisons’ congestion that was majorly caused by many factors, but none of the factors was the making of the Judiciary.
“The largest number of inmates at the Correctional Centres were those awaiting trials. Some cases are genuinely pended in courts because sometimes, the accused persons would not get counsels to defend them. They must be defended based on their choices, hence, such cases would have to be adjourned.
“Again, there was no time frame for a case to last, it may last as long as it remains unresolved. No case can be struck out at will, the procedures must be followed especially capital offences”.
Justice Adeyeye added that the Judiciary visits the Ekiti Correctional centre twice annually, to review cases of awaiting trial inmates, saying this was part of the ways the judiciary had been helping in decongesting the centres.
Also, the Controller, Correctional Centre, Ekiti Command, Mr. Ojo, urged the PCC to encourage the judiciary to embrace non-custodial sentencing and to decongest the various centres in the country.
Ojo added that though, the Ekiti correctional centre was already filled beyond its capacity, he restated that adequate feeding, clothing, healthcare and required rehabilitations were still being made for the inmates.
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