Following the incessant jailbreak cases in Nigeria, the federal government, in partnership with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), has concluded plans to drastically reduce over population in most of the prison yards across the country.
The current records as of August 29, 2016, shows that a total number of inmates in prisons has risen to 63, 000, with 17,897 convicted (28%) while 45, 263 are awaiting trial (72%).
Revealing this yesterday in Abuja, at workshop on effective implementation of non-custodial measures in Nigeria, UNODC Country Representative, Ms. Christina Albertin, said the justice project, aimed at supporting improvement prison conditions across the country, was being funded by the European Union and being implemented at the federal level and other nine states.
The focal states, according to her, include Anambra, Bayelsal, Benue, Cross River, Imo, Kastina, Lagos, Osun and Yobe.
She said: “The project is aimed at supporting improvement of government at the federal and state levels with the aims of enhancing the functioning of the justice sector including reducing undue delays, improving prison conditions and reducing backlogs.
“Backlogs and undue delays in the trial of criminal cases and un-resolving civil disputes remain key problems in the justice sector, and is one of the main causes of very high numbers of awaiting trail detainees in prisons across Nigeria.”
Also speaking, the Minister of Interior, Gen. Abdulrahman Dambazau (retd), said the non-custodial measure was primarily designed for minor crimes or other special category of prisoners without restriction of confinement in prison custody.
He said: “Advantages of non custodial measures includes saving the offenders from the trauma of imprisonment, preventing further contamination in criminalities through the prison informal socialisation process, offering the opportunity for genuine penitence, promoting effective re-integration of offenders and reducing the financial burden on government in the administration of criminal justice.”
The Minister, however, expressed confidence that with the range of expertise gathered at the workshop, feasible ways of applying measures as widely as possible within the confines of the law would be provided.
It would be recalled that cases of jailbreaks have increased in recent times.
On July 30, not less than 13 inmates escaped from Koton Karfe prison in Kogi state.
Ten days later, no fewer than 15 inmates at the Federal Prisons in Nsukka, Enugu state, escaped in another jailbreak that reportedly took place late in the evening.
Also this month, no fewer than 14 inmates of the Abakaliki prison in Ebonyi state capital, were feared killed during a jailbreak bid under the cover of a prison riot.