The Federal Government, yesterday, said it has constituted a committee to develop a strategy for the deployment of technology for the decongestion of prisons in Nigeria and the implementation of Virtual Automated Case Management System.
Government said the committee, which will be chaired by the Chief Judge of the Federal Capital Territory, Justice Ishaq Bello, would aid the systematic decongestion of all the prisons in the country, as well as periodically analyze the number of detainees.
A statement signed by media aide to Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Salihu Isah, further disclosed that mandate of the committee included to advise the government on periodic visits to prisons for effective monitoring of the programme.
Other mandates include, “Liaise with relevant government agencies on the progress of prison decongestion programme. Organise a national summit on prison reform and decongestion in Nigeria.
“Conduct the audit of criminal cases pending in courts to enable the determination of the reasons for the delay. Undertake a legal audit of prison facilities in Nigeria with a view to identifying persons who should not be in prison.
“Carry out other duties as may be assigned to it by the Honourable Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice.”
Isah stated that the committee would oversee the implementation of the Federal Executive Council’s directives to fast track decongestion of prisons.
He said: “This renewed efforts to put prisons across the nation under proper perspective is geared to mark a paradigm shift from previous attempts towards prison decongestion in the country.”
“Therefore, the Federal Ministry of Justice intends to realign the program to pay greater emphasis on true reforms of the prison and shifting of emphasis from retaining the services of external solicitors for awaiting trial inmates only to the Reformation, Rehabilitation and Reintegration (RRR) of the inmates.
“The stakeholders committee is also expected to come up with a roadmap for the prison decongestion program, providing a comprehensive user friendly approach for tackling the problems bedeviling the Nigerian prison system.
“It will also provide an insight into the past and present efforts of the Federal Ministry of Justice and other stakeholder institutions towards repositioning Nigeria prisons system”, the statement added.
Besides Justice Bello, other members of the committee are Mr. Dayo Akpata, Solicitor General of the Federation and Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Justice (FMOJ), Comrade Salihu Othman Isah, Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to the Honourable Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Pius Oteh, Special Assistant to the President on Coordination and International Affairs, Mr. Sylvester Imhanobe, Special Assistant to the President on Research and Special Projects, Mr. Reuben Mathew Jego, Supreme Court of Nigeria, Lieutenant Colonel O.N. Adesuyi (Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) and Mr. Olawale Fapohunda of the Legal Resources Consortium.
Others are Mr. Clement Nwankwo, Executive Director, Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre (PLAC), Ms Melissa Omene, Office of the Vice President, Mr. Tunde Ikusaga, Legal Aid Council, Titilayo Samuel, National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) Patrick Enyeting of the Nigerian Police Force (NPF), Mr. Barkan Hadi, who is representative of the Director of Public Prosecution of the Federation, Mrs. Sarah H. Daniel, Citizens Rights Department of the FMOJ, Mr. Felix Ota-Okojie, Federal Justice Sector Reform Coordinating Committee (FJSRCC) of FMOJ, representatives of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) and Nigerian Prisons Service (NPS) and Mrs. Leticia Ayoola-Daniels of the FMOJ who serves as secretary of the committee that will be inaugrated on Tuesday by the AGF, Mr. Abubakar Malami, SAN.