PPDC pledges to ease overcrowding in correctional facilities nationwide

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By Ibironke Ariyo

The Public and Private Development Centre (PPDC) has reiterated its commitment to decongest correctional centers across the country in order to reduce pretrial detention.

Mr Jubril Shittu, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the center, said this during the ‘Access to Justice Pro Bono Conference 2024’ held on Wednesday in Abuja, this goal.

Shittu highlighted that the purpose of the pro bono conference was to discuss strategies for alleviating congestion in correctional centers.

“So many issues that have to do with inmates languishing in detention has been raised, justice delayed is justice denied.

“When you have over 76,000 people in the custodial facilities across the country, and of which 70 per cent of these inmates are awaiting trial, it shows how effective the justice system needs to be.

“So what we are here to do really is to contribute in our own way, working together with the various law clinics, with the probono lawyers, with the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), with the legal aid council to see how we can reduce these numbers.

“And we are supported by our donors to ensure that we are able to effectively deliver justice in a timely manner,” he said.

Shittu said that the organisation was also addressing issues beyond pretrial detention such as alternative measures to justice challenges.

He alleged that cases like the Nigerian cross-dresser Bobrisky, who was sentenced to six months in prison and many others needed to be revisited.

Shittu, however, commended the efforts of the various justice sector stakeholders at the state levels, adding that the concurrent list was now also addressing the issues of congestion.

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“The idea behind this is to ensure that on a regular basis, we are visiting these facilities to look at the state of these facilities.

“This is because, according to the Nigeria Correctional Service Act 2019, there is the section 38, which specifically looks at some of these issues.

“And this is where we hope that through the work of the criminal justice monitoring committee, we are able to effectively ensure that people do not spend more time than they ought to in this facility, “he said.

Speaking, the Director General, Legal Aid Council of Nigeria, Aliyu Abubakar, said that every stakeholder in the justice system was concerned about the issues around criminal justice administration.

Abubakar urged stakeholders to continue to work to ensure that the poor and indigent within the society could easily access justice when needed.

“In the Legal Aid Council, we were essentially established by the government to assist the poor and indigent persons to access justice.

“The issue of congestion in the correctional centres are probably factors of two fold; insufficient prisons and inefficiency of the remand system.

“That is why the correctional centres are overcrowded with inmates and we are working as a government institution to reduce the population, “he said.

Abubakar, however, noted that unfortunately, the more the centres were reduced in population, the more people got into the correctional centres nationwide.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the PPDC has over 195 pro bono lawyers and over 150 law clinicians drawn from at least six states, from universities and also from various groups .(NAN) (www.nannews.ng)

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Edited by Dorcas Jonah and Abiemwense Moru

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