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Prison decongestion a national priority, says CGP

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Ahmed Ja’afaru.

The Controller-General of Prisons, Ja’afaru Ahmed has said that decongesting Nigerian Prisons has become a national priority.Ahmed also described as “bold and innovative” the collaboration between the Nigerian Prison Service (NPS), Prisoners’ Rehabilitation and Welfare Action (PRAWA) and the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) to decongest the Prisons.

Speaking at a three-day capacity building workshop in Lagos for members of the Penal Reform Media Network (PERMNET), a component of the Prison Reform Project (PRP), Ahmed said he was confident that this latest initiative “will yield very positive results by drastically reducing the remand population in the prisons.”

Represented by Mr. Joseph Usendiah, Controller of Prisons (Administration), the Controller-General urged the participants to show “utmost commitment” towards the realization of the goals of the programme, adding that Nigeria “cannot afford a situation where over 70 per cent of the prison population is non-convicts.”

Speaking earlier, the acting Executive Director of PRAWA, Mr. Yinka Lawal said the project is designed to address some of the key challenges hindering the Nigerian Prison Service from delivering on its key mandate to reform, rehabilitate and re-integrate prison
inmates.

“The Prison Reform Project (PRP) is designed to run until March 2019 and is aimed to improve the knowledge on the nature and demographical characteristics of awaiting trial prisoners in targeted prisons in Nigeria as well as enhance the quality of data collection and use of prison statistics,”he stated.

Subsumed into the larger “Security and Justice Reform Programme (SJRD),” the Prison Reform Project aims to improve access to justice for Awaiting Trial Persons (ATPs) in the targeted prisons in Lagos, Kano and Enugu states.

It will also increase awareness, implementation and replication of good prison/correctional practices in Nigeria as well as increase the number and quality of legal representation for awaiting trial prisoners in targeted prisons in Nigeria.

Aside from promoting administrative and judicial interventions aimed at reducing the duration in custody and number of pre-trial detainees, the project is designed to promote good prison practices in Nigeria through the replication of global best practices in correctional institutions.



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