‘Restorative Justice unit needs to be established in prisons’
The Project Coordinator of Lagos State Restorative Justice, Mr Benson Iwuagwu has called for the establishment of a unit within the prison commands to facilitate the referral of Awaiting Trial inmates to Restorative Justice Centre and address the perennial challenge of overcrowding.
Iwuagwu disclosed this during a technical meeting of the Lagos State Restorative Justice Steering Committee, an initiative of Prison Fellowship Nigeria in partnership with Lagos State Government.
The programme was supported by European Union and Nigeria United Nation’s Office on Drug and Crime (UNODC). In his address, Iwuagwu said the criminal justice system in the country is currently struggling with crippling challenges of delay, over-use of custodial measures and consequent overcrowding in prison.
“Over 70 per cent of Nigeria’s Prison population is currently awaiting trial in overcrowded detention centres,” he stated. He also said that the current challenges of delay and congestion are directly linked to the fact that Nigeria Criminal Justice System has remained largely retributive, despite the transformative provisions in the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (2015) among others, all of which provide for restorative justice pathways.
“Restorative Justice can be applied at every stage of the Criminal Justice process, from pre-charge to post conviction, has the capacity to transform the criminal justice system because Restorative Justice gives the victim and community voice in the Criminal Justice System.