Pri­son de­con­ges­tion: LAC col­lab­o­rates with NBA

Daily Trust - - LAW - By Ade­lanwa Bamg­boye

The Le­gal Aid Coun­cil (LAC) of Nige­ria in the bid to en­sure that Nige­rian pris­ons are de­con­gested has en­tered into part­ner­ship with the Nige­ria Bar As­so­ci­a­tion Unity Bar, FCT Chap­ter.

Di­rec­tor-Gen­eral of LAC, Mrs. Joy Bob-Manuel, and the chairperson of the NBA Unity Bar, Mrs. Betty Umeg­bulem, vis­ited Keffi Pris­ons in Nasarawa State, re­cently in com­pany of some NBA of­fi­cials and the coun­cil’s lawyers.

Dur­ing the pri­son visi­ta­tion, a to­tal of 134 cases were col­lected by the coun­cil for pros­e­cu­tion in dif­fer­ent courts within the state and en­vi­rons.

Le­gal Aid Coun­cil of Nige­ria is a paras­tatal un­der the Fed­eral Min­istry of Jus­tice with the man­date of rep­re­sent­ing in­di­gent cit­i­zens of the coun­try in courts. Their ju­ris­dic­tion cov­ers both crim­i­nal and civil cases.

Ac­cord­ing to the DG LAC, the col­lab­o­ra­tion in the area of pri­son visi­ta­tion is to en­able the coun­cil de­liver on its man­date. The coun­cil by its man­date is ex­pected to visit pris­ons and de­tect those who need rep­re­sen­ta­tion. Pri­vate lawyers who be­long to the NBA and are de­sirous of rep­re­sent­ing in­di­gent cit­i­zens are also part­ner­ing with LAC on probono ba­sis and from the way things are go­ing the coun­cil is equal to the task.

The NBA chairperson, Unity Bar of the FCT chap­ter on her part pointed out that the NBA is in col­lab­o­ra­tion with the Le­gal Aid Coun­cil on pri­son visi­ta­tion to help iden­tify clients and as­sist in prose­cut­ing their cases. She stressed that apart from pris­ons, there are other ar­eas Unity Bar reaches to peo­ple the aim be­ing to in­form them that NBA is in­ter­ested in their af­fairs on the is­sue of cases of hu­man rights vi­o­la­tions in per­sons.

She ex­plained that un­der the new era, they have es­tab­lished desk of­fices in pris­ons for tack­ling is­sues re­lat­ing to hu­man rights vi­o­la­tions and that LAC has so far given them 15 cases for pros­e­cu­tion.

Deputy Con­troller James Lan­der re­vealed that Keffi Pri­son has a to­tal num­ber of 449 in­mates out of which 326 are await­ing trial, while 123 are con­victs. The pri­son has ca­pac­ity for 160 and 80 bed spa­ces. This anal­y­sis is to show how con­gested Keffi Pri­son is. He how­ever, dis­closed that he has writ­ten to the chief judge re­quest­ing him to help de­con­gest the pri­son be­cause it is still un­der his ju­ris­dic­tion.

In­ter­est­ingly ma­jor­ity of the in­mates are from FCT com­mands while pre­vail­ing crimes among them are armed rob­bery, cul­pa­ble homi­cide among oth­ers.

In round­ing off he stated that, with the good num­ber of lawyers in their team, Le­gal Aid Coun­cil will no doubt help in de­con­gest­ing the Keffi Pri­son and other Nige­rian pris­ons in gen­eral.

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