President Muhammadu Buhari, on Friday made a case for the urgent decongestion of prisons in the country saying that what obtains in the country prisons today is a national embarrassment.
President Buhari who spoke at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, said that the prisons in the country were overcrowded by up to 90 percent and needed to be decongested immediately through a new approach, to save the country form further embarrassment.
“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,” the president said.
The new approach by the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) the president said is “advocating 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”.
The president who said he was concerned about the daunting challenges faced by the judiciary in the areas of infrastructure and funding added that the need to improve the welfare of the judiciary informed the increase in the judiciary budget in the 2017 fiscal year.
“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 sustain. I have asked the Attorney General to take up this matter with the salaries and wages commission for advice to the President,” he said.
“I really appreciate the efforts you are making. We know that the stability of the country depends on the police and the judiciary. When people believe that their cases will be speedily and justifiably treated, I am telling you, they will mind their own businesses, but when they are in cover with the police and the judiciary, then we’ve a problem. And the money that we need for development especially education infrastructure and healthcare will be spent on security,” he said.
“If we try to mention the amount of money that we spend on the northeast and what is costing us to maintain the relative stability in the Niger Delta, the elite will hide its face in shame,” he stated further.
In an earlier remarks, Justice Onnoghen thanked God for healing the President Buhari and reassured him of the judiciary’s readiness to continue to do its best in the discharge of its responsibilities for the overall development of the country.