The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has freed seven inmate of Kuje, Abuja Prison who could not afford to pay their fines, as ordered by the court.
The Executive Secretary of the Commission, Tony Ojukwu Esq who paid the fines for the seven prisoners during the flag off ceremony of the 2018 audit of prisons and other detention centres in Nigeria admonished them to be of good behaviour and avoid any act that would take them back to prison. The Chief Executive Officer of the Commission officially paid the fines through the in-charge of Kuje prison, Deputy Comptroller of Prison (DPC), Onoja Innocent for onward transmission to the court.
The NHRC boss said that the audit is a mandate driven project routinely carried out by the Commission pursuant to the powers of the Commission as provided in Section 6(d) of the NHRC Amendment Act, 2010 to visit prisons, police cells and other detention places to ascertain the conditions thereof and make recommendations to the appropriate authorities.
The Commission’s helmsman noted that the Commission’s previous audit exercises have resulted in some reforms in the prison services in particular and the Criminal Justice Administration system generally.
He observed that the amount of food ration has increased to N450.00 per prisoner while more vehicles have been procured for the prisons to ease conveyance of inmates to court.
Despite these achievements, he said that certain perennial problems have continued to undermine sustainable reform of detention facilities in Nigeria which accordingly to him is evident in the areas of Access to Justice, congestion, and welfare concerns of officers who oversee the facilities.
In his remarks, the Chairman Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters, David Umaru said that the Senate is currently considering four major Prisons Reform Bills which he noted would improve the condition of prisons in the country.
The Senate Committee Chairman who was represented at the occasion by Senator Joshua Ledani said the proposed Bills are targeted at amending the Prisons Act to provide a Mother and Baby Unit for the care of female and prisoners who are nursing mothers and their babies among other benefits.
The Chairman House Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters, Hon. Edward Pwajok said that his Committee is seeking the support of all stakeholders in the discharge of its mandate to ensure that all Bills concerning Nigerian Prisons especially on establishing correctional, rehabilitation and reintegration for prisoners are put in the front burner for accelerated passage.
The 2018 nationwide prisons and other detention places audit will end in September.
Corporate Affairs and External Linkages Department,