A Cry for Justice: The Plight of Untried Inmates in Nigeria

By Mohammed Bello Doka, 

The narrative unfolds the grim reality of Nigeria's correctional facilities. The Interior Minister, Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo, recently revealed a startling statistic that has stirred the nation's conscience. According to him, the country's custodial centres currently house over 4000 inmates who are incarcerated simply because they lack the financial means to pay the fines imposed on them by the judicial system.

The Minister's revelation paints a bleak picture of the nation's justice system, where an overwhelming majority of the prison population, over 70 percent, are still awaiting their day in court. This means that out of the 79,000 inmates, more than 55,000 are yet to be tried.

Tunji-Ojo's statement underscores a pressing issue that needs immediate attention. He firmly believes that the number of inmates in the correctional facilities could be significantly reduced, by as much as 40 percent, if the provisions for non-custodial alternatives in the Correctional Service Act were put into practice.

In his words, “We have over 4000 inmates in the facilities for their inability to pay various fines. We believe we can reduce the number of inmates in our correctional facilities by about forty percent if we explore non-custodial alternatives as provided for in the Correctional Service Act.”

The Minister's revelations have sparked a national conversation about the state of the country's correctional facilities and the urgent need for reform. The narrative ends on a note of hope, with the Minister mentioning the EU's commitment to supporting Nigeria in its quest for justice reform.

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