To reduce the number of inmates awaiting trial in the country as part of the efforts to decongest the prison population, the Federal Government has proposed a maximum of one-year trial period.
The 12-month trial period, according to the FG, will span the time from the arrest of suspects to the conclusion of their cases in the court.
Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola, who made this known on Tuesday declared that the rising inmate population is having a toll on the custodian centres and the available resources.
Aregbesola spoke on day two of the Nigerian Correctional Service retreat for senior officers in Sokoto.
He cited slow dispensation of justice as the factor responsible of congestion of prisons.
In his words, “Let there be a strong advocacy for rapid dispensation of justice. When I went to court to get my mandate that was stolen in Osun, the process lasted 42 months. It was precisely six months to the expiration of the tenure that my mandate was returned.
“It was that experience that forced the judiciary to say every litigation on governorship election must not last more than a year and since then they have kept to it. To reduce the number of inmates awaiting trial we must ensure that the time from arrest to conviction must not go beyond a year.
“If this is done, we will reduce the large percentage of inmates in our correctional centres. We will also be able to reduce the humongous cost of feeding them and the lack of not having enough resources.
“If we can reduce the number of awaiting trial inmates by cutting short the period of trial to a maximum of 12 months the amount we are going to save from feeding them will be enough to revamp the service and our centres.”
In reaction to the development, the DG of Nigerian Workforce Strategy and Enlightenment Centre (NIWOSEC), Dr David Kayode Ehindero, said the “rising number of inmates in Nigerian cell is a direct reflection of the nation’s socioeconomic situation.”
According to Dr Ehindero, more people have taken to crime in the survivalist environment.
He stressed that a nation that refuses to make living accessable will create a survival of the fittest environment, hence crimes and criminality will increase.
His words: “The Judiciary is overwhelmed and could not dispense justice on time. Another fact is that Judiciary is grossly underfunded and the judges are not properly renumerated.
“Let the government start from the root of crimes- Unemployment, corruption, inequalities as the prisons will authentically be decongested.”