President Muhammadu Buhari has advocated a new approach to resolving the problem of prison congestion in the country.
He was speaking while playing host to a delegation of the judicial arm of government led by the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Walter Onnoghen, at the Presidential Villa, Abuja on Friday.
According to President Muhammadu Buhari, the congestion of prisons across the country has become a national scandal that must be addressed immediately through a new approach.
He said: “We need a new approach to prisons decongestion. It is a national scandal that many prisons are overcrowded by up to 90 percent. Urgent new measures should be put in place to speedily decongest prisons not only in the interest of justice but to save cost for prisons maintenance and enhance the welfare of prisoners.”
Buhari disclosed that he already has a request from the Minister of Justice and Attorney General to establish courts within prison premises to tackle congestion through sidetracking logistics problems associated with movement of prison inmates to court for trial.
“My Attorney General is advocating the establishment of courts inside the prisons to speed up decongestion. The logistical problem of transporting prisoners from prisons to courts means a difficult period for suspected detainees. This is really bad,” Buhari regretted.
He commended the Judiciary for establishing special courts to speed up the trial for corruption and other criminal cases.
The President also said that government has decided to increase the budget of the Judiciary, in view of the role it plays and would sustain that to improve the dispensation of justice.
He said: “We are not unmindful of the daunting challenges faced by the judiciary in the areas of infrastructure and funding. This informed our decision to increase the judiciary’s budget in the 2017 fiscal year which we are committed to sustaining. I have asked the Attorney General to take up this matter with the salaries and wages commission for advice to the President.”
He, however, said the stability of the country depended a lot on the Judiciary and Police.
Buhari lamented that huge sums were being spent on security, especially in the North-East and Niger Delta regions, instead of meaningful development, to better the lives of citizens.
Earlier in his remarks, Justice Onnoghen thanked God for healing the President Buhari and reassured the President that the judiciary will continue to do its best for the country.
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