Number of inmates awaiting trial soars by 70% in Kano

The Nigerian Correctional Service (NCoS), Kano state command, Monday said 70 per cent of inmates are awaiting trial across the custodial centres in the statecommand, SC Musbahu Lawan, stated this while addressing newsmen at the state headquarters in Kano.

He said overcrowding was a challenge to the smooth operation of the NCoS in the state, as the number of awaiting trial inmates had tripled that of convicted inmates in the state.

“Statistics show that only 30 per cent of inmates are convicted in the correctional service, while inmates awaiting trial constitute 70 per cent of the total number of inmates in the state.

“Most of the inmates awaiting trial have stayed in custody with their cases yet to be determined by the courts.

“Our laws give us the power to transfer convicted inmates to any facility in the country, so, if the inmates awaiting trial are eventually convicted, there won’t be congestion,” Lawan said.

He noted that convicted inmates were easier to manage as they were mandated to engage in the various reformatory programmes, an opportunity which awaiting trial persons might not have.

“Most of the convicted inmates also benefit from the educational programmes in the custodial centres.

“In Kano, 38 convicted inmates sat for and passed the NECO, SSCE and they are now seeking for admission at the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN).

“Due to increased interest of the inmates to study, the service is working with NOUN to establish more study centres in the custodial centres in the state,” Lawan said.

He said one of the challenges was lack of study facilities like computers and study materials.

Lawan said the federal government had introduced the non-custodial measures like parole, community service and probation among others, to address the overcrowding conundrum in custodial centres.

He commended some judges for complementing the federal government’s effort by making maximum use of non custodial sentencing.

“NCoS will continue to pursue its mandate of keeping safe and humane custody of the legally interned, while protecting the society safer by reforming rehabilitating and reintegrating offenders,” Lawan said.