Buhari directs action on prisons decongestion
President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday directed drastic and urgent action to decongest Nigerian prisons, saying they were overcrowded and constitute a national scandal.
The president spoke when he hosted a delegation of the judicial arm of government led by the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) Justice Walter Onnoghen at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
He said the prisons were over crowded by up to 90 per cent, adding, “We need a new approach to prisons decongestion. Urgent new measures should be put in place to speedily decongest prisons, not only in the interest of justice, but to save cost for prisons maintenance and enhance the welfare of prisoners.”
President Buhari said the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami had since requested that courts be established within prisons to address the problem of logistics associated with the movement of suspects to courts during trial.
“My Attorney General is advocating establishment of courts in the prisons to speed up decongestion. The logistics challenge of transporting prisoners from prisons to courts means a difficult period for suspected detainees. This is really bad,” he said.
He commended the judiciary for establishing special courts to speed up trial for corruption and other criminal cases, adding that government decided to increase the budgetary allocation to the judiciary in view of its role and assured that his administration would sustain effort aimed at improving speedy dispensation of justice.
“We are not unmindful of the daunting challenges the judiciary face in the areas of infrastructure and funding. This informed our decision to increase its budget in the 2017 fiscal year, which we are committed to sustaining. I have asked the Attorney General to take up this matter with the salaries and wages commission for advice to the presidency,” he said.
He, however, lamented the financial implications of providing security, especially in the Northeast and Niger Delta regions, instead of meaningful development, adding that the stability of the country depended on the judiciary and Police.
Speaking earlier, Onnoghen thanked God for healing the president and reassured that the judiciary would continue to do its best for the greater good of the country.
His words: “Today is a very unique day. It is a day the judiciary as a body has come to welcome you back home. We thank God and thank you and the first family for continuing to take care of the home front. We thank the Federal Executive Council (FEC) for their cooperation and the Vice President in particular.”
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