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PRAWA Tasks Government on Prisons, Criminal Justice Reforms

From  Ignatius  Okpara, Enugu

(AFRICAN Examiner) – The Prison Rehabilitation and Welfare Action (PRAWA) has revealed that out of 71,642 prison inmates in various Nigerian  prisons, a total of 2,322 are on death roll.

It said 49,001 inmates representing 68.4 percent are on awaiting trial while 22,641 representing 31.6 percent are convicted inmates.

African Examiner reports that the organization, which has been partnering with the  Nigeria prisons Service NPS , over the years, has bias for security and criminal justice development in Nigeria and Africa.

This was disclosed on Tuesday in Enugu by the Executive Director of PRAWA, Dr. Mrs Uju Agomoh, during  a joint press briefing with the Nigerian Prison Serves (NPS) on prisons reform.

She said a lot of shocking acts were discovered during a survey on ‘Nigerian Prison carried out by the organization, adding that  it discovered that most awaiting trial inmates have spent over 12 years in prison waiting for trial and it has negatively impacted on the prison service.

Dr. Agomoh, said that the reports of the survey were presented to stakeholders in Abuja on February 1, 2018 and subsequently to the National Assembly, NASS.

According to her, one  of the key recommendations of the reports “is the urgent need to develop framework and clear indicators for assessing and understanding the ‘true’ cost of imprisonment including the cost of excessive use of pre-trial detention, in terms of both the direct and indirect costs.

She said: “The assessment of these costs on the basis of its impacts on the prisoners, ex-prisoners, their families, the primary and secondary victims, the prison officers, other criminal justice agencies, the community, the States and the country as a whole”.

The survey findings she further  stated, indicate that most of prisoners found are from poor backgrounds as reflected in the level of education and type/status of employment of their parents.

She however, stressed the need for the media to join hands with PRAWA and Nigerian prisons as a key player in promoting institutional reforms for access to justice, rehabilitation and social development of prisoners, ex-prisoners, torture victims etc.

The Executive Director,also  noted that there was need for the government to establish prisons for young offenders, usually called bolster homes, in all states of the federation, stressing that lack of such reformation Centres in parts of Nigeria, has done more harm than good to the nation.

“This is to avoid a situation where under-aged children will mixing up with adult prisoners, Pregnant women, nursing mothers, elderly and people with terminal  illnesses needed such special homes and treatment as well,” .

In his submission, the Public Relations Officer PRO  of Prisons, Francis Enobore, had  applauded the the present Federal Government in improving the nation’s prison  conditions , especially in the areas of procuring all the necessary material made for prisoners and staff of staff of the establishment.

According to him,  since the present administration came onboard, the Nigerian prisons has been getting  enough drugs, food and uniforms for junior staff of the establishment

He urged the media to continue to assist the agency in re awakening the consciousness  of states in supporting prisons activities in their areas.

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