By Itohan Abara-Laserian
A human rights advocate, Mr Ben Abraham, has called for effective tracking of cases of inmates in correctional centres to determine their statuses.
Abraham told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Tuesday in Lagos that the use of data collection to track inmates’ cases would improve the judicial ecosystem.
According to him, a system to track statuses is pertinent to address some of the challenges faced by inmates while awaiting trial.
Abraham, who is the Founder of Zarephath Aid Foundation, a criminal justice and prison reform- based NGO, also said it was common for inmates to stay in prison custody for years without appearing in court.
“This has led to the design of a software application that will keep track every inmate’s case and raise query on where an inmate does not attend court or where the court does not sit for a long period of time.
“It is very difficult to know the stage of inmates’ cases and this can lead to failure to attend court dates for up to one year,” he said.
The activist further explained that it was disheartening to discover that whenever Judiciary officials visited prisons to compile names for those released by the Chief Judge or government, names of inmates deserving pardon were often found omitted.
“And that brings us to the same question of which is, how can inmates be in custody without credible data on their cases?
“We need support to deliver this app and train the prison officials on how to use it.
“If properly launched and applied, it can go a long way to make available names of inmates deserving of legal aid, and amnesty,’’ Abraham said.
The advocate, however, said when operational, any organisation could access the names of an inmate and file necessary applications through the app, adding that such data was not available today.
“We need partners to collaborate with us. We intend to recruit at least 500 volunteer lawyers to tackle prison congestion in the first quarter of the year,’’ he said.
He said that the foundation was also targeting 10,000 inmates in the first batch. (NAN) www.nannews.ng
Edited by Abdul Hassan/Buhari Bolaji