November 29, 2021

NEWS AGENCY OF NIGERIA

Africa's Media Giant

Awaiting trial inmates: NGO urges govt. to accelerate court processes

Awaiting trial inmates: NGO urges govt. to accelerate court processes

Awaiting trial inmates: NGO urges govt. to accelerate court processes

Metuh advocated a deliberate judicial action that would lead to the acceleration of trials for the conclusion of investigations, trials and delivery of judgments in all cases, especially for inmates awaiting trials.

By Ibironke Ariyo

The Legend Golden Care Foundation, a Non Governmental Organisation (NGO) has called on the Federal Government to accelerate court processes for cases to move faster to help inmates, especially those awaiting trial.

The Executive Director of the foundation, Mrs Kanayo Metuh, made the call during the presentation of gift items to inmates at Suleja Custodial Centre on Thursday in Niger, under its “Beyond the Walls” initiative.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the inmates at the Suleja Custodial Centre were 700 and items donated included slippers, toothpastes, tooth brushes, bathing soaps, drinks, bread, among others.

Metuh advocated a deliberate judicial action that would lead to the acceleration of trials for the conclusion of investigations, trials and delivery of judgments in all cases, especially for inmates awaiting trials.

She said a person was considered innocent until proven guilty as stated in the Nigerian constitution.

She added that the situation was worse where people were incarcerated for five to seven years thereby awaiting trial for so long.

According to her, the unintended consequence is that people are probably serving jail terms for crimes they did not commit.

“And then at the end of the day, when they are found guilty, they might have exceeded the maximum terms allocated for the crimes committed initially.

“I want to call on the government to accelerate the court processes so that cases would move faster.

“And also remove whatever bottlenecks that exist in the system that will make it possible for someone who is awaiting trial to be locked up for five to seven years,” she said.

The Executive Director said one of the many positive things that came out of her husband’s travails was the awareness of the challenges being faced by the NCoS.

Metuh noted that the experience of her husband, Olisa Metuh, former national publicity secretary to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), brought about the initiative “beyond the walls.”

She said it was majorly for people that were incarcerated.

She added that the foundation also provided free legal aid to the inmates that could not afford legal representation.

“We are here today to present some of the needs of the inmates. We are here with few things and to also find out other things we can do to make the inmates’ stay some worth comfortable.

“We understand that when people commit crimes, there has to be punitive measures but correctional service should not just punish people, there should be a form of rehabilitation.

“This means at the end of the day, you do not want people to leave here with the same mindset that brought them,” she said.

She explained that the NGO embarked on the initiative to also support what the government was doing, and that even with the best intentions, the government could not do everything.

“I want to call on individuals, corporate organisations and NGOs to rise up to the occasion to help the inmates.

“In the western world, there are usually collaborations between the government and the private sector,” she said.

Metuh also called on well meaning individuals to help the NCoS to live upto their names by correcting the mindset of inmates and add value to their lives.

She also pleaded with Nigerians to stop stigmatising people who had been incarcerated, adding that It was such a horrible experience to be incarcerated for years and still face stigmatisation.

Also speaking, the Assistant Controller in charge of Suleja Custodial Centre, Mr Ali Ali, commended the foundation for the initiative, saying that it was laudable.

Ali said the NGO had been exceptional beyond the expectation of the service, and urged other NGOs and individuals to follow suite and help inmates have the lives they hoped for.

“We will continue to do our best and ensure all you brought for the inmates are duly used and distributed appropriately,” he said.