How govt can decongest prisons, by PFI
The Prison Fellowship International (PFI) has called on the Nigerian government to initiate criminal justice reforms that would decongest prisons in the country. Funding should also be provided to equip prisons and improve welfare of inmates.
The group made this call during a dinner night organised by the Nigerian chapter of the NGO in Lagos, in honour of its President Mr. Frank Lofaro’s on his first visit to the country.
In his speech, Mr. Lofaro, expressed his happiness over the relationship between the Nigerian chapter and prison authorities in the country, noting that of over 50 countries he has been to, no other country’s chapter has a cordial relationship with prison authorities like is obtainable in Nigeria.
As the ‘most influential African country’, with the largest economy and a Gross Domestic Product (GDP) also ranked highest on the continent, Nigeria is an enormously important country to the fellowship” he said.
In his remark, the Executive director of the Fellowship, Mr. Benson Iwuagwu, said, “with the way our criminal justice system is, the prison will remain congested” hence the need to enact policies that would help decongest them. He also said that the fellowship was aware of the danger the congestion pose to the society and that is why one of the series of their activities is to assign a mentor to each prisoner for 18 months, 6 months before release and 12 months after release to ensure that they do not resort to crime upon release.’’
The Deputy Controller General of the Nigeria Prison Service (NPS), Mr. Chuks Afojuo , who represented the Controller General, Dr. Peter Ekendu, said that the inmates needs the help of the society and that PFN has done a lot in terms of rehabilitation, and noted that there has been tremendous change in the prisons they’ve delved into.
He explained the importance of keeping the inmates engaged, because allowing their minds to be unoccupied could prove fatal to the society on the long run. He pledges continued support to support the fellowship.
Addressing the press later, Mr. Afojuo explained that the prison authorities has little or nothing to do with the congestion of the prison, that their duty is to ensure that the prisoners are taken to court as and when due, and also released after serving their jail terms.
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