JUDGED by the parlous state of its prisons, Nigeria is a nasty and underdeveloped country feigning to be developing. It is a failing state where the prisons are overcrowded, filthy and underfunded. Their dysfunctional condition has prompted President Muhammadu Buhari to call for a change. This is a good omen if the President’s belated alarm becomes forex alarm system catalyst for strategic reforms.
Nigeria’s prisons mirror a broken society struggling vainly to reform its miscreants. In a note to Court of Appeal and Supreme Court Justices, Buhari succinctly captured the state of the prisons, describing them as a national disaster. It is a national scandal that many of our prisons are overcrowded by up to 90 per cent. The Nigerian prison system is out of whack because government has not reengineered what it inherited from the colonialists, who constructed the first gaol in 1872.
Today, there are just 144 prisons and an additional 83 satellite prisons in the country, according to Nigerian Prisons Service statistics. This is inadequate because the rate of population explosion is faster than that of the expansion in prisons facilities. As a result, the prison no longer serves the purpose of reforming offenders. The cells are swarming with repeat offenders, who find it hard to re-adjust to a tough society that has no sustainable programmes for their rehabilitation. They acquire dangerous habits in prison and return to torment the society.
In all, the NPS Controller-General, Ahmed Ja’afaru, says that as of March, 68,250 people were behind bars. There should be a solution to this abnormality. For example, the Kirikiri Prisons in Lagos, which was built to accommodate 1,700 inmates, had 3,553 as of June, over-shooting its capacity by 1,853 inmates. Many pregnant female prisoners are forced to deliver their babies in jail. The children live there with their incarcerated mothers. This is a cruel fate for these innocent children.