Legal Nigeria

Lawyers Seek Improved Prison Condition

Some legal practitioners in the FCT have urged the Federal Government to improve on the state of prisons across the country.
They told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Tuesday that the aim of establishing prisons, which was reformation, could only be achieved if the conditions there were favourable.
One of the lawyers, Mr Anthony Ekuma, told NAN that there should be strict categorisation of prison cells according to the degree of offence.
“There are the Minimum and Maximum Prisons, caution should be taken to make sure that those with minor offences go to minimum prisons while those with `heinous’ offences go to the maximum.
“Prisons should be a place where reformation of character should be achieved if properly maintained.
“There should be collaboration between the law enforcement agents, in a way that certain minor offences, could be settled at their stations rather than being taken to court which most likely ends up in incarceration,” he said.
According to him, there should be more jail delivery, where a chief judge can visit the prisons and set free some inmates who deserve such freedom.
Ekuma stressed the need for more judiciary officers to be sensitive to the needs of offenders by ensuring speedy dispensation of justice.
He also advocated the engagement of honest prison workers who would ensure inmates’ welfare by prudent and judicious use of funds allocated for the running of prisons.
Another lawyer, Mr Joel Ali, decried the state of the prisons, stressing that some inmates might be wallowing in jail for offences they had not committed.
“Our law enforcement agents, especially the police, should be thorough in their investigations because some of the allegations against accused persons most times may not be sufficient.
“On the part of the court, there should be speedy trial to bring about speedy judgments on criminal cases.
“The court is the hope for the common man as the prison should be a place of reformation for a law offender,’’ Ali said.
He advised government to strengthen the Criminal Justice Act, which advocates custodial sentence or alternative sentence.
According to him, it will help to decongest the prisons and ensure that those with light offences are not kept together with those with heinous offences.