The National Human Rights Commission, NHRC, are making giant strides towards ensuring that lengthy and unnecessary pre-trial detention are stopped in the Nigerian correctional system.
This is in line with its oversight function of ensuring that Nigerian prisons are in compliance with global human rights standards.
In a statement signed by the Chief Press Officer of the commission, Fatima Agwai, Executive Secretary of NHRC, Prof. Bem Angwe, in an event to mark the African Day of Pre-Trial Detention, which took place in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital, called on all relevant security and correctional agencies to always adhere to nation’s Constitution and Guidelines on the Conditions of Arrest, Police Custody and Pre-trial Detention in Africa, as well as other relevant International Protocols, Treaties and Conventions in handling criminal suspects.
Prof. Angwe while commending the Inspector General of Police, Mr. Solomon Arase for his efforts in decongesting Nigerian Police cells all over the country, pledged the support of his commission in ensuring that Nigerian prisons and the entire correctional system are in line with global best practices.
The human rights boss went on to disclose that that recent Prison audit conducted by the Commission revealed than about 70% of the inmates were awaiting trial without the required minimum standard of living, which according to him constitutes a grievous human rights abuse. In actual figures, out of 50,645 lockups, the number of convicts was 13, 901 compared to awaiting trial detainees of 35, 889 which indicates a great problem in the Nigerian criminal justice system.
The National Human Rights commission on its own part, has embarked on a nationwide visitation of prisons to make sure that prisoners enjoy the basic human rights which the prison system should afford them.
The report of the findings of the visitation and subsequent recommendations will be sent so appropriate quarters to help enhance and protect the lives of prisoners and of course, reduce the number of inmates in Nigerian prisons resulting from the large number of awaiting trial detainees.