By Lontong Ibrahim
The Controller General of Nigeria Prison Service, Ja’afaru Ahmed, said 46,351 of the 69,259 inmates imprisoned in the country are awaiting trial.
He said, as at March 6, 2017, the Prison facilities throughout the country accommodate 68,259.
According to him, in order to ensure self-sufficiency in food production for the feeding of inmate in the Prisons, the Prison Service has reopened the various prison farm centres to ensure the realization of its set objective.
He explained that the Prison Service has purchased additional twenty-two tractors that would lead the service to specialize in food production to feed the inmates and sale to the general public.
He said, “As at March 6, 2017, total inmates population stands at 68,259. Out of this number, 46,351 are awaiting trial persons, and the remaining 21,903 are already convicted.
In terms of percentage, he said, the convicted is 32 while those awaiting trial is 68 percent. “The figures are not static, as it goes up and down,” he explained.
“In 2016 budget, we purchased so many farm machineries like tractors and other kinds of implements. We have also dug so many boreholes, fish-farming and the rest of them. These would be used to reposition our farm centers.
“What we intend to do when the budget for 2017 is passed is we will pick three (3) out of fourteen farm centres. The idea is to make sure that we specialize in different farming processes.
“In Kujama Farm, we intend to set it up strictly for the production of maize. We want to see the production of maize all year round, not only during the raining season but also during the dry season. We have budgeted some amount of money to sink boreholes for irrigation purposes to ensure the success of these programmes.
“We have picked Lampushi farm center strictly for rice production and the possibility of producing rice during both raining season and dry season. We have also taken Ozalla for the production of palm oil. These are three pilot projects we intend to do this year to see the possibility of whether the prison can actually feed itself,” he said.
He added that it would go into mechanized farming where crops would be produced in large quantity, reducing manual labour and enhancing production.
On the synergy existing among the three arms of the Criminal Justice system, Ahmed said, the Prison was the last bus-stop and only a custodian of all the parties, that is, the Judiciary cum the prosecution authority (Ministry of Justice), the Police and the Prisons.
While calling for collaboration between the three arms of government, he advised the criminal Justice system to always determine cases of those awaiting trials, noting that so long as anybody knocks on the door with valid warrant and appropriate papers, they have no option but to receive such persons.