Yemi Osinbajo, the vice president of Nigeria, has lamented the current state of rot and degradation in Prisons across Nigeria. He said that any human being who goes into Nigerian prisons would most certainly come out as an animal.
Osinbajo disclosed this on Thursday, February 1, 2018 in Abuja during the official presentation of the Nigerian Prisons Survey Reports, a research work undertaken by Prisoners Rehabilitation and Welfare Action, PRAWA, in conjunction with Nigerian Prisons Service.
Osinbajo, who was represented by Abdulrahman Dambazau, the minister of Interior, was quoted saying
“I visited the Port Harcourt prisons yesterday (Wednesday). While I was waiting for my flight, I chose to go to the prison. What I saw is a reflection of quite a lot of things in the survey.
P-H Prison has 5000 inmates instead of 800
“The Port Harcourt prison was built in 1918, meaning it will be 100 years old this year. For a very long time, our prisons had been neglected because that prison, when it was built in 1918 was meant to contain about 800 inmates, but today it is containing over 5,000 and I find that very disturbing.
“There was no room for prisoners and anybody who goes into that place as a human being is coming out as an animal.”
While he hailed PRAWA for the survey, which he said would avail government of reliable data on which to predicate its plans for prison reforms, Osinbajo said: “Most of the inmates in the various prisons come from within the states, so there is every reason for state governors to support the Federal Government in administering the prisons service. They have to domesticate the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, ACJA.
He was quick to, however, state that a lot has recently been done for the prisons but noted that because the sector had been neglected for such a long time, it would require continued and sustained interventions to completely turn around the fortunes of the prisons service.
3,700 awaiting trial inmates
“The major issue we are facing now is the population of those awaiting trial; pre-trial detention. Of the about 5, 000 inmates I saw in Port Harcourt prisons, over 3,700 were those awaiting trial and I spoke with a few of them as I was moving and I found that very many of them had been in prisons for five years upward without going to court.
“I tried to find out some of the reasons and I think in order to deal with this issue, there is the need for Departments of Public Prosecution, DPP, in the states to look at how the processes or what kind of procedures should be adopted in prosecuting criminal cases in this country.
“Secondly, investigations by police or arrest procedures must be looked into in order to look at this situation because if investigation is poor, then prosecution will be defective.
“Third is the court, they have a lot to do in terms of criminal trials. Cases are unnecessarily adjourned, though I know that there are over-lapping problems.
Prisons are warehouses
“Prisons are warehouses for inmates brought to them. While they can do something about their environment, they cannot do something in terms of prison population because they are just warehouses.”