The House of Representatives on Thursday condemned the prevailing situation in prison facilities across the country, where more than two-thirds of inmates have not been convicted.
The lawmakers said the prisons are uninhabitable and inmates are languishing in them even though that have yet to be convicted of the offences for which they were accused.
The lamentation came when lawmakers debated the situation of Nigerian prisons at Thursday’s plenary with a view to proffering solutions.
The situation was brought to lawmakers’ attention under a motion by Emeka Anohu from Anambra State.
Mr. Anohu said the delay in prosecuting crime suspects by concerned authorities had deprived many inmates the opportunity to go through correctional activities, which is the essence of a prison sentence.
“Owing to poor facilities and lack of logistics, the prison authorities often fail to convey inmates to courts for trials which adds to delay in disposal of their cases,” Mr. Anohu said.
“They have to remain in prison facilities that lack basic correctional officers and tools that would enable inmates prepare for their re- integration into the society upon their release.”
“Most of the prisons lack basic amenities like portable water, proper waste disposal system, blessings, etc, a situation that exposes them to contacting various ailments.”
Supporting the motion, Prestige Ossy, an APGA lawmaker from Abia State, said it is worrisome that there are 39,000 awaiting trial out of 56,000 inmates in the country.
“A visit to any prison and you will see man’s inhumanity to man. There are no fans, mattresses, the floor is not plastered; there is no access to lawyers, no vehicles to go to court.
“We can’t allow this to continue. There is big men prison and another for the common man. The one for the big men is well kept, but the other is terrible. It’s a breeding haven for criminals,” Mr. Ossy said.
Mr. Anohu, therefore, urged his colleagues to approve his motion seeking to compel the Federal Ministry of Interior and the management of the Nigerian Prisons Service to find solutions to the crisis.
The motion was unanimously approved by lawmakers who approved an ad-hoc committee that would interface with the ministry officials and report back to the House within six weeks.