The Director-General of the Legal Aid Council of Nigeria, Mr. Aliyu Abubakar, said on Wednesday that the nation’s criminal justice administration is pathetic because of the disposition of the security agents.
Abubakar, who made the remarks on Wednesday, 26 May, 2021 when he paid a courtesy visit to the Oyo State #EndSARS Panel of Enquiry, at the State Secretariat, Agodi, Ibadan, said that the nation’s Correctional Centres are over-filled with awaiting trial persons due to poor recording processes by the security agencies.
He stated that the nation’s criminal justice system must have a radical change from what is happening currently.
According to him, there must be a radical shift from the way and manner arrests and investigation “are conducted in the country; if we are to have a serious departure from what we have – because what we have is not palatable.”
He added: “For instance, if you go to the Agodi Correctional Service, I can tell you that up to 70 per cent of those that are there are people that are awaiting trial, the same thing is happening throughout the country.
“This is pathetic because some of them must have spent so many years in prison. This is a travesty of justice because in law, justice delayed is justice denied.
“And the funny thing about this situation is that, in such a way and manner, if they have been convicted by the law court based on the offences they have committed, some of them must have left prison.
“It doesn’t make sense and almost everybody is aware of this, but everyone seems to be handicapped.”
The Director-General noted that the Nigeria Police are the principal actors as far as the issue is concerned, saying that “though other detailing authorities are also guilty of the issues raised. But the Police have the highest number because they deal with society on a daily basis.
“It is so bad despite what the legal aid council, NBA are doing to decongest the prisons. Despite the Presidential Committee, that is on ground; going round the country trying to decongest the prisons; the success that can be achieved is minimal.
“This is so, because as we are releasing 10 people from prisons the Police are dumping 30 or 40 other people, in such a way and manner, we cannot make progress,” he added.
Abubakar said the essential thing was to beg and appeal to the Nigeria Police to do what is right.
He equally charged the policy makers to make it a duty and recommend to government on the need to reorientate the Nigeria Police, stressing that a radical change in the orientation of the police must be carried out, “unless all our efforts to decongest the prisons would be in vain.
The DG further urged the Oyo State EndSARS Panel to get justice in the interim or immediately for people that have been denied justice, or people that have suffered from the brutality of detention authorities.
He also called on the Panel to focus more in recommending orientation for the police in particular.
In her remarks, Justice Badejoko Adeniji, the chairman of the Oyo State #EndSARS Panel, who appreciated the DG for the courtesy visit, aligned with his submissions, while attributing the causes of the #EndSARS protest to the inappropriate way and manner some policemen worked.
Badejoko also called for the reorientation of the police officers, saying this will enable them to perform better in accordance with the nation’s constitution.