By Peter Duru

No fewer than 47,817 inmates are currently awaiting trial in Nigerian prisons out of a total number of 69,200 detai-nees.

The Country Director of Citizens United for Rehabilitation of Errants, CURE-Nigeria, Mr. Sylvester Uhaa made this known at a roundtable for criminal justice actors in Benue State, put together by his organization in conjunction with the Benue State High Court of Justice, Makurdi.

Uhaa lamented that many detainees stayed on pre-trial longer than convicts and far longer than they would have stayed in prison if they had been convicted.

He said, “As a result the prisons are overstretched and overcrowded with many holding thrice their designated capacities. They have also become breeding grounds for diseases and criminality, with huge consequences on prison inmates, their families and society. In addition, there are either no or too little rehabilitation programs available in the prisons.”

He said the situation in the prisons had become almost impossible to manage and often resulting in jail breaks. “This situation is a time bomb we are all sitting on, and when it explodes, none of us, no matter how safe we think we are, will be spared”, he added.

Uhaa urged President Muhammadu Buhari and state Governors to take immediate steps to address the issue by decongesting the prisons in the country and also place emphasis on justice and prison reforms and prisoner rehabilitation and reintegration.

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