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Over 70% of inmates awaiting trial stole sugarcane, yam, says Malami

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Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami (SAN)

The Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF), Abukakar Malami (SAN), has disclosed that over 70 per cent of inmates on awaiting trial in prisons are for minor offences such as stealing of sugarcane and tubers of yam.

Malami stated this yesterday when himself, Chief Judge of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) High Court, Justice Ishaq Bello and other members of the stakeholders committee on the decongestion of prisons visited the Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, at the Government House, Port Harcourt.

The AGF, who told the governor that the committee was established following a directive of President Muhammadu Buhari to work with the stakeholders and agencies of the criminal justice system to decongest the country’s over-crowded prisons, said that the committee was working assiduously with other critical stakeholders on the decongestion of the nation’s prisons without compromising national security.

Malami, who disclosed that some 126,500 inmates had already been released through the payment of fines for minor offences, said the committee would find immediate solutions to cases that require payment of fines, while working with other stakeholders for long-term solutions.

He said most of the inmates in Nigerian prisons are between 18 and 25 years, with most of them involved in drugs.

Justice Bello, who spoke in a similar vein, said that the condition of Nigerian prisons is dehumanising, adding that the prisons terrorise the psyche of inmates.

He said the prisons were so congested that inmates could not find space to sleep or even sit properly.

Meanwhile, Governor Wike, who told the committee that the closure of the courts in Rivers State between 2013 and 2015 by the immediate past administration affected the criminal justice system of the state, and worsen the congestion of the prisons in the state, said Rivers State Government had already started the process of decongesting the Port Harcourt Prison through the Chief Judge of the state who released some inmates last year.

“The congestion of the Port Harcourt Federal Prison is a major concern. That is why the Rivers State Government has commenced the process of decongesting the prison,” he said.


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