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Osinbajo: Any human being who goes into Port Harcourt prison comes out an animal

Osinbajo: Any human being who goes into Port Harcourt prison comes out an animal
February 02
17:36 2018
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Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo says any human being remanded in Port Harcourt prison, Rivers state capital, will come out as an animal.

Decrying the poor infrastructure and living conditions of inmates, Osinbajo described the prison as a warehouse.

He spoke during the public presentation of three volumes of prison survey report (PSR) compiled by the Nigerian Prison Service (NPS) and the Prisoners Rehabilitation and Welfare Action (PRAWA).

Represented by Abdulrahman Dambazau, minister of interior, Osinbajo said what he saw in the prison is a reflection of the survey.

According to the vice-president, the 100-year-old prison which was originally built to accommodate 800 inmates, now holds 5000.

He added that 3700 of the inmates have been awaiting trial for over five years.

“I visited the Port Harcourt prisons yesterday. What I saw is a reflection of quite a lot of things in the survey,” Osinbajo said.

“The Port Harcourt prison was built in 1918, meaning it will be 100 years old this year. There was no room for prisoners and anybody who goes into that place as a human being is coming out as an animal.

“For a very long time, our prisons had been neglected because that prison, when it was built in 1918 was meant to contain about 800 inmates, but today it is containing over 5,000 and I find that very disturbing.”

Osinbajo attributed the poor state of the prison to neglect by successive governments.

He also said there was the need to look at the procedures adopted in prosecuting criminal cases in the country, while lamenting the “unnecessary” adjournment of cases.

He, however, said there would be improvement as President Muhammadu Buhari has shown interest in prisons reform.

“The major issue we are facing now is the population of those awaiting trial; pre-trial detention. Of the about 5, 000 inmates I saw in Port Harcourt prisons, over 3,700 were those awaiting trial and I spoke with a few of them as I was moving and I found that very many of them had been in prisons for five years upward without going to court,” he said.

“Prisons are warehouses for inmates brought to them. While they can do something about their environment, they cannot do something in terms of prison population because they are just warehouses.

“My finding also reveals that prisons have been neglected over the years by the successive administration at the expense of the inmates.

“I tried to find out some of the reasons and I think in order to deal with this issue, there is the need for Departments of Public Prosecution, DPP, in the states to look at how the processes or what kind of procedures should be adopted in prosecuting criminal cases in this country.

“Secondly, investigations by police or arrest procedures must be looked into in order to look at this situation because if investigation is poor, then prosecution will be defective.

“Third is the court, they have a lot to do in terms of criminal trials. Cases are unnecessarily adjourned, though I know that there are over-lapping problems.

“It is however a thing of joy that President Muhammadu Buhari has shown keen interest in prison reforms and had carried out tremendous progress on prison rehabilitation even though funds are not there.”

Editor’s note: This picture was used for the illustrative purposes

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