Governor Akinwunmi Ambode of Lagos State, on Friday, expressed concern about the congestion of prisons, with over 70 per cent of inmates in the state awaiting trial. The governor then called for major reforms to decongest prisons across the country.
Ambode spoke when he received a delegation from the Nigeria Prison Services, Lagos Command, led by the comptroller, Mr Tunde Ladipo, at his residence in Epe.
He said that the state advisory council on prerogative of mercy would look into some of the cases of inmates and see the possibility of granting official pardon to prisoners who are remorseful. The governor said that inmates of good behaviour and those ready to contribute meaningfully to the society would be pardoned.
“I am very concerned about the congestion of prisons in Lagos State. However, there is no better time to carry out reforms in our prisons, and it is necessary, especially as regards the decongestion of the prison,” he said.
Ambode also directed the special adviser on Primary Healthcare, Dr Olufemi Onanuga, to provide adequate health services for all the prisons in the state so as to prevent the outbreak of diseases.
The governor also donated vehicles and other equipment to the state’s prisons service as part of his administration’s contribution to make the prisons more conducive.
“For a state like Lagos where development is ongoing, it is bound to attract people from other states and neighbouring countries, and this means increase in population.
“We are providing these critical assistance to the prison authorities to make them more efficient and make our prisons more conducive,” Ambode said.
Earlier, the comptroller of prisons, Lagos Command, Mr Tunde Ladipo, said that the visit was to remind the governor of their request for some vehicles and equipment. These, he said, were to enhance their capacity to effectively transport and secure inmates awaiting trial.
Ladipo said that as at January 31, 8,191 inmates – 7,887 male and 304 female – were in custody across the five prison facilities in the state. Of all the inmates, 6,290 were awaiting trial and attending the various court jurisdictions in the state.
“The challenges toward fulfilling the responsibilities of effective prison duties are indeed overwhelming and seriously challenging especially in a state with a large inmate population like Lagos,” he said.
Ladipo, while commending the governor for his developmental strides and massive support to security organisations, said the state’s prison command was working toward reforming prisoners. He also revealed that two inmates, Kabiru Tunwase and Oladipupo Moshood were currently pursuing a PhD in Business Administration and Peace and Conflict Resolution respectively.
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