The All Nigeria Peoples Party [ANPP] received with interest news in the media yesterday where the Executive Secretary of National Human Rights Commission, Professor Bem Angwe, said that 70 percent of inmates in Nigerian prisons have no business there because they are awaiting trial. This is a manifest admission of helplessness and incompetence by the Government as regards the nation’s prisons and correctional service sector. At this time in the life of our great country, when insecurity and socio-economic uncertainty reign supreme, weak and porous correctional infrastructure is the undisputed fodder to the surging wave of crime. Our party wonders whether the Federal Government is aware of the criminals it is inadvertently breeding in our jails.
The overall intent in establishing prisons was to rehabilitate criminals by teaching them personal discipline and respect for work, property, and other people. Fundamentally, the philosophy and practice of the correctional institution is to punish the bodies of criminals less and improve their souls more, but a situation where prisoners in Nigeria are exposed to inhuman conditions, with many of them wasting without trial, is a travesty of civilization and affront on human dignity. But most significantly, it is gross insensitivity on the part of the PDP led government.
Our great party believes that when the true essence of the penitentiary is abused or neglected it loses its objective of reforming errant citizens and sanitizing the polity. Today we are accosted with a situation where people convicted and jailed for unserious crimes come out hardened, ready and willing to commit more heinous crimes against the country and fellow citizens. In the same vein, affluent public officers convicted for serious crimes, helped by an unjust and incompetent correctional infrastructure and administration, end up getting punished like juvenile delinquents and come out ready to commit worse crimes. What more can engender a confused, insecure nation than this?
The ANPP hereby calls on the National Assembly to ensure the speedy passage of the prisons reform Bill to enhance effective reforms of the prison system in the country. It should also focus on areas of crime and punishment in the ongoing Constitution Amendment so to align with the current security challenges of the nation. As a party, we believe that the Justice System is not complete without an efficient, just and competent correctional system.
Hon Emma Eneukwu
National Publicity Secretary