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600 inmates living in prison meant for only 116 people’



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By Idebaneria Cynthia

Mr. Ekwere Ekanem, Nasararwa State Controller of Prisons, says the high level of congestion in prisons across the state is limiting efforts at reforming inmates to become better citizens.

Ekanem said in an interview with newsmen in Lafia that the prison in Keffi built to serve 116 inmates currently houses over 600 prisoners.

He also said facilities at the five prisons across the state were over stretched, making it difficult for the service to effectively rehabilitate the inmates.

The controller stressed that the domestication of the Administration of Criminal Justice System Act 2015 would go a long way in decongesting prisons, as it has provisions for alternative dispute resolution mechanisms.

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” If the Act is domesticated one does not need to go to prison because of a minor offence; with the Act, first offenders are not supposed to be sent to prisons as there is provision for alternatives,” Ekanem said.

He noted that under the Act, provisions had been made for juveniles, who were shielded from trial and detention but sanctioned in other ways, so as not to ruin their lives while serving jail term.

The controller said most of those in the prisons across the state were awaiting trial, and called on Judges to quickly dispense with cases, to help decongest the prisons.

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