Lawyer dares President Buhari to visit prisons
* As AGF sets up stakeholders’ committee on decongestion
The Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami, will tomorrow inaugurate a stakeholders’ committee on prisons decongestion in Nigeria.
Meanwhile, lawyer and civil rights campaigner, Mr. Emeka Nwadioke, has dared President Buhari to visit any Nigerian prison, saying the leader would shed tears if he ever did.
Citing recent concern by the President on prisons, Nwadioke said the gesture fell short of the expectations of stakeholders in the justice sector. “I am aware that Mr. President has not visited any prison since his assumption of office. If he can voice such disappointment merely based on hearsay, let me assure you that he will weep for this country the day he steps into any of our grossly dilapidated prisons,” he said in a statement to mark his golden jubilee anniversary.
According to a statement issued by the Ministry of Justice, the national stakeholders’ committee, which would be led by the Chief Judge of the Federal Capital Territory, Justice Ishaq Bello, is expected to oversee implementation of Federal Executive Council’s directives to fast track decongestion of prisons.
The statement notes that the renewed effort would mark a paradigm shift from previous attempts towards prison decongestion in the country.“Therefore, the Federal Ministry of Justice intends to realign the programme, to pay greater emphasis on true reforms of the prison.”and shifting of emphasis from retaining the services of external solicitors for awaiting trial inmates only to the reformation, rehabilitation and reintegration (RRR) of inmates.
“The stakeholders’ committee is also expected to come up with a roadmap for the prison decongestion programme, providing a comprehensive user friendly approach for tackling the problems bedeviling the Nigerian prison system.
“It will also provide an insight into the past and present efforts of the Federal Ministry of Justice and other stakeholder institutions towards repositioning Nigeria’s prison system.”
It adds: “The committee would equally develop a strategy for the deployment of technology for the decongestion of prisons in Nigeria and the implementation of the Virtual Automated Case Management System.”
Other functions of the committee are: “Aid the systematic decongestion of prisons; analyse periodically, the number of detainees, either discharged, granted bail or convicted; advice on periodic visits to prisons for effective monitoring of the programme as well as liaise with relevant government agencies on the progress of the prison decongestion programme.”
The committee is also to organise a national summit on prison reform and decongestion; conduct the audit of criminal cases pending in courts; undertake a legal audit of prison facilities with a view to identifying persons who should not be in prison, and carry out any other duties as may be assigned to it by the AGF.
Members of the committee include, Solicitor General of the Federation and Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Justice (FMOJ), Mr. Dayo Akpata; Special Assistant to the President on Coordination and International Affairs, Mr. Pius Oteh; Special Assistant to the President on Research and Special Projects, Mr. Sylvester Imhanobe; Mr. Reuben Mathew Jego of the Supreme Court of Nigeria; Lieutenant Colonel O.N. Adesuyi of the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA); Mr. Olawale Fapohunda of the Legal Resources Consortium, as well as the Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to the AGF, Salihu Othman Isah.
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