Comptroller decries poor condition of prisons in Nasarawa

Comptroller-General of Prisons Service, Peter Ezenwa Ekpendu.

Comptroller-General of Prisons Service, Peter Ezenwa Ekpendu.

The Comptroller of Prisons in Nasarawa State, Ekwere Ekanem has lamented the deplorable living condition of convicts and those awaiting trials for various offences in prisons across the state.

Ekanem spoke yesterday when he visited the state office of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lafia, the state capital.

He regretted the absence of rehabilitation programmes for the inmates while in custody.

According to Ekanem, the total number of prisoners in Nasarawa is 1,663 with just 520 convicted while 1,143 persons are still awaiting trial.

“These awaiting trial inmates are in various prisons across the state,” he said.

Ekanem, who described the high population of awaiting trial inmates as worrisome said his visit to NAN was to seek the agency’s support to sensitise stakeholders and the public to the urgent need to decongest the prisons.

“It is not the fault of the prisoners but the faulty system. We will appreciate any help from anywhere because government cannot do it alone. It is time for all stakeholders to be actively involved in reforming the prison system in the country,” he stated.

“Those convicted are supposed to be trained in skills acquisition, but right now we are just managing to cope with the huge number so they don’t escape or cause problems in the cells,” he said.

Ekanem then appealed to the Nasarawa State government to domesticate the Criminal Justice Act that was signed into law in 2015 to help reduce the population of those in prisons in the state.

Responding, the state correspondent of NAN in Nasarawa, Mr. Mohammed Baba-Busu pledged maximum support to the prison service in its efforts to decongest prisons.

“I want to assure you that NAN will give you the maximum cooperation by ensuring that your activities are publicised to the authorities and the public.”

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