FIDA Seeks Speedy Decongestion Of Prisons
By Joy Akpuka, Minna
Members of the Justice Sector Reforms Committee have been called upon to consider decongestion of prisons priority by ensuring speedy dispensation of justice for prison inmates particularly those with minor offence languishing in prison custody across the country.
Niger State chairperson of the International Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA), Hajiya Fati Suleiman Takuma, made the appeal when she led other members of the federation to Minna Old Prison and the medium security prison to felicitate with the inmates during the Christmas.
Armed robbery and rape cases suspects top the list of criminals in most prison yards across Nigeria, the FIDA chairperson said, as she advised the prison inmates to turn a new leaf by transforming their lives and become better citizens.
Takuma blamed her colleagues in the judiciary for what she described as avoidable delays in the dispensation of justice, adding that most of the prisons across Niger State are over congested because of number of awaiting trails.
While appealing for a change of attitude among professionals in the judicial arm of government as the last hope of the common man, Takuma who donated food items to the inmates said that the wake-up call has become necessary to the dispensing justice to the generality of Nigerians.
“We are here to see how we can help and I believe the stakeholders are doing their best to see that most cases in our courts receive accelerated hearing as this is the only way to avoid prisons congestion”, Takuma said as she urged them to utilise all that they learnt while in custody.
According to her, “The society did not reject you; make use of the acquisition centre to improve yourselves, learn one trade or the other so that when you are free your jail term you will have something to fall back at and be useful to the country”.
While wishing the inmates the best of the Christmas and New Year, Takuma said, “We also like to tell all of you that we all love you. We are also praying that when you come out you will feel as a normal persons and go about your normal businesses.
“Please, use this season to reflect and denounce your old ways and criminal intents; the less offences and crimes we have around us the better the society will be and things will work out fine for all of you”, the chairperson of the state women lawyers said.
The Deputy Controller of Prison, Minna Old Prison, Malam Sanusi Dan-Musa, applauded the generosity of FIDA for its effort towards improving the living conditions of prison yards in the state.
While calling on other associations and stakeholders in Niger State to emulate FIDA, Musa however expressed regrets that 90 per cent of the 386 inmates are awaiting trials, while 10 per cent had been convicted for various offences and called the relevant authorities to speed up justice to decongest the prisons.
Musa who however commended efforts of the federal government at sustaining prisons said that it was regrettable that, “Minna old prison was initially built to accommodate only 149 inmates but today we have 386 inmates. The authorities should look at capital offences particularly suspected armed robbery and rape cases with a view to administering speedy dispensation of justice”.