IKEJA—Lagos State Government, yesterday, blamed prison congestion across the country on the attitude of inmates, saying, “some of these inmates liked to be within the prison environment.”

Meanwhile, as part of measures to decongest prisons in the state, the state government has created a Crime Data Registry, where particulars of inmates, who have been on awaiting trial for years would be kept for proper monitoring of suspects and subsequent follow-up of their cases.

Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr. Ade Ipaye, said this at a ministerial briefing in commemoration of the first year of the second term of Governor Babatunde Fashola.

Ipaye  explained that prison congestion was more than what people were seeing because when the inmates are called upon on the days of their trial, most fail to respond to their names in the morning.

“And, after some years, the case may have been struck out by the court and the police officer who is handling the case may have been transferred and the case file may have been lost. Some people hide for long and after some time, they show up.

“Despite all these, we know that all the inmates in the prisons in Lagos are not from Lagos alone but the state government is concerned about them, though the prisons are Federal Government agencies.”

Ipaye said the government was more concerned about the high level of awaiting-trial inmates at Kirikiri,  Ikoyi and Badagry  prisons, noting that the Office of Public Defender, OPD, would henceforth pay regular visits to these prisons, file necessary papers to ensure such accuse person(s) regain their freedom.”

“Prison congestion in Lagos is at an alarming rate, the state government has made moves to decongest the prisons through regular meetings between the Chief Judge, myself and the Commissioner of Police to improve on the reform of the Criminal Justice System.

“The prisons become congested mostly because when the Police arrest an accuse person, people will not come forward to bail them and he or she would be taken to the prison. The Police and the Prison Authorities are federal agencies that are not accountable to the state government.

“We are not to be blame for the prisons congestion. We are also concerned but sometimes, some of these awaiting trial inmates hid themselves when names are called in the morning by prison officials for them to be taken to court,” he added.

 

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