Femi Gbajabiamila, Majority Leader on Tuesday called for devolution of powers to states on prison management.
BusinessDay gathered that out of 69,304 inmates currently incarcerated in various prisons across the country as at 18th April, 2017, 9,133 inmates are in the prisons within North East geopolitical zone.
Gbajabiamila (APC-Lagos) who gave the charge during the Tuesday plenary session, urged the joint Committees on Justice and Prisons to look into modalities on prison management in other climes and come up with necessary amendment to the Nigerian Constitution.
The Lagos lawmaker who narrated his experience during the 55th birthday celebration’s visit to Lagos prison, bemoaned the state of the prison.
He noted that several inmates who are currently languishing in the prisons have no business in those cells.
According to him, several inmates who have been locked in the prisons for about 30 years for minor offences, without trial in competent court of jurisdiction.
He added that many of the inmates have stayed in the prisons for about six months over their inability to pay the sum of N20,000.
While noting that the prison ought to be corrective and reformative place for offenders, he lamented that less than 10 percent of the funds appropriated to Nigerian Prisons Service is allocated for capital expenditure.
In the bid to address various challenges bedeviling prison management in the country, he canvassed for immediate decongestion of the prisons across the country.
Francis Enobore, Nigerian Prison Service’s Public Relations Officer who spoke recently with BusinessDay, disclosed that the agency has signed Memorandum of Understanding with some States including: Akwa Ibom and Lagos.
“Presently, a Memorandum of Understand has been signed by the Minister of Interior and the Executive Governor of Akwa Ibom state with a view to relocating Uyo prison.we have many others that are coming on board. Lagos for instance, talks are still going with the view to relocating Ikoyi prison, ditto Owerri prison and so many other prisons that are located in urban centres.
“Prison as an institution we all know, is charged with the primary responsibility of providing safe custody to those in incasteration we don’t stop there, we go further to treating and reforming them with a view to returning them back to the society better citizens. And this task cannot be actualised where you have a noisome environment, where you will not have the inmates kept in the humane condition to make them amendable to correction and reformation therapy.
“So this is why we keep appealing to different state governments to see the need to collectively address a number of issues concerning the prisons because when prisoners are released from the prison, the immediate social environment that feels their impact whether positively or negatively is the community to which they are released.
“Close to 90% of prisoners you find in every prison are indegenes of the state where those prisons are located, so it makes better meaning if the State Government can partner with the Federal Government in addressing some of these challenges so that together, we can forge a better tomorrow for the offenders in custody.
“It is open, talks are still going on. There have been indication of interest from state government especially States where we have very old prisons,” he stated.