The leadership of the Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, recently visited the Minister Of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation Chief Mike Aondoakaa and accused his ministry of engaging in corrupt practices in handling Prison decongestion cases .
The NBA executive led by its President Rotimi Akeredolu, SAN had commented on the state of prisons in the country and lamented that there were alleged malpractices in the prison decongestion briefs in the justice ministry.
â€˜NBA notes the intervention of the FGN in prisons and police reform. NBA specifically notes the FGN prison decongestion project. The NBA has received complaints from the generality of its members on the operation of Scheme in the Ministry of Justice.
As resolved at our NEC meeting in Sokoto we decry the corruption and malpractices inherent in the Prison decongestion briefs at the Federal Ministry of Justice. We call on the Attorney-General to put his own house in order in this regards.
The frequent jail breaks and prison unrest (the most recent in Enugu) is an indication of the need for further intervention. It is the view of the NBA that prison unrest is no longer only a justice issue but that of national security.
Specifically, in addition to urging the HAGF to support the timely passage of the Prisons Bill, the NBA is proposing that the HAGF in collaboration with the NBA considers setting up an Independent monitoring group of all places of detention.
The monitoring group will be mandated to visit all places of detention, provide quarterly briefings to the HAGF and the NBA to enable urgent action in needy cases.
Our primary concern is to persons who ordinarily should not be in prison or detained in police cells.
The NBA will commit to playing a key role in this initiativeâ€™
In his response the minister of Justice said that his ministry has sought to attain the highest standard of transparency in handling decongestion cases.
â€˜We have a compelling need to decongest our prisons and to improve on all places of detention in line with international standard.Â We have achieved remarkable success in this programme but much still needs to be done. We have concluded a legal audit of this project and we will make the report public at a Prisons Stakeholders Summit in August. I have sought to attain the highest standards of transparency in all activities of the Justice Ministry.
Let me use this opportunity to inform you that my office is presently working on the modalities for the establishment of an Independent monitoring group on all places of detention. I will like to use this opportunity to ask the NBA to forward its nominees to my office urgentlyâ€™.