President Muhammadu Buhari has directed that a new approach be applied to hasten the decongestion of prisons in the country.
According to president, the congestion of Nigerian prisons is a national scandal that must be addressed immediately through a new approach to save the country from further embarrassment.
Buhari spoke when he hosted a delegation of the judicial arm of government led by the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Walter Onnoghen, at the presidential villa, Abuja.
“We need a new approach to prisons decongestion. It is a national scandal that many prisons are overcrowded by up to 90 per cent. 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”, he stated.
He said the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice had since requested that courts be established within prisons in order to address the problem of logistics associated with the movement of suspects to courts during trial.
“My Attorney General 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”, President Buhari lamented.
He commended the Judiciary for establishing special courts to speed up trial for corruption and other criminal cases.
President Buhari said government 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 continued: “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”.
President Buhari regretted 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.
He, however, said the stability of the country depends a lot on the Judiciary and the Police.
Earlier in his remarks, CJN Onnoghen thanked God for healing President Buhari, even as he reassured the president that that the judiciary will continue to do its best for the country.
He also thanked the Federal Executive Council for its support and cooperation.