The Controller of Nigerian Prisons Service in Enugu State, Mr Ndubuisi Ogbodo, said speedy trial and capacity building will help to decongest the nation’s prisons.
Ogbodo made the observation in Enugu on Friday.According to him, the Enugu prison, which has a capacity for 638, now has 2,117 inmates.
He pleaded with the judiciary to assist by putting an end to unnecessary adjournments of cases to help in reducing the number of inmates, particularly with another festive period around the corner.
“With the new administration of justice law, we wish to have short judicious sittings; one free of long-run adjournments.This will also mean that those with minor offences can be dealt with expeditiously, while those found not guilty are set free,” he said.
He particularly bemoaned the situation where those accused of minor offences spent years awaiting trial.“When someone is accused of stealing and he has already spent two years awaiting trial, how many more years will he spend if he is eventually convicted?
“The courts need to speed up their cases so that minor offenders won’t be punished beyond what the law stipulates.In such an instance, the Chief Justice of the state, who is the only one bestowed with such right, can use his power and prerogative to discharge the inmate,” he said.
The controller also called on the government to assist in the area of logistics.“Presently, we have 95 courts that are being covered by the Enugu prisons command, but we do not have functional vehicles.
“We need functional vehicles to convey all the inmates to their different courts and we believe that the state government, non-governmental organisations and other institutions can help us,” he said.
Ogbodo also called for construction of more buildings inside the prisons to prevent the overcrowding of inmates. According to him, some cells meant to accommodate 20 inmates, now have 100 inmates.