70% Of Prison Inmates Await Trial- NCoS

Daud Olatunji

The Nigerian Correctional Service (NCoS) has revealed that a staggering 70 percent of inmates in prison facilities nationwide are awaiting trial, shedding light on the urgent need to address the issue of prolonged detention without trial.

Haliru Nababa, the Controller-General of NCoS, made this disclosure on Wednesday during an investigative hearing organized by the House of Representatives joint committees on reformatory institutions, justice, police affairs, interior, and human rights.

Represented by Tukur Ahmad, Deputy Controller General for Training and Staff Development, Nababa emphasized the imperative to decongest prison facilities across the country, attributing the overcrowding to challenges within the criminal justice system.

Nababa further underscored the financial strain caused by the large inmate population, noting the federal government’s efforts to reduce the substantial costs associated with feeding inmates annually, which often amount to billions of naira.

He provided statistics on the current state of custodial centers, stating, “The NCoS maintains 265 custodial centers across the country, with a capacity of 64,192, yet we are accommodating a total inmate population of 78,519 as of March 18, 2024. Of this population, 70 percent are individuals awaiting trial.”

To address this pressing issue, Nababa stressed the importance of completing the construction of 3000-capacity new custodial centers across the six geopolitical zones, highlighting the need for substantial financial resources to support the service in its efforts to decongest correctional facilities.

He  said the federal government is making an effort to cut costs of feeding the inmates which often runs into billions of naira annually.

“Of this actual inmate population, 70 percent represents persons on awaiting trial.

“The NCoS maintains 265 custodial centres across the country, with the capacity of 64,192 against a total inmate population of 78,519 as of March 18, 2024,” Nababa said.

Ahmed Abubakar, Commandant General of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), echoed the call for urgent action to alleviate prison congestion. 

Abubakar suggested that National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) members serving as lawyers could assist in expediting pretrial cases to alleviate the burden on the judicial system.

“For us to speedily decongest our correctional centres in the country, we need the completion of the 3000 capacity new custodial centres that are built across the six geopolitical zones, and we need a lot of money for the service.”

“We have many young men in prisons, and we are requesting that these young lawyers, particularly NYSC members, be compulsorily sent to help address pretrial cases,” Abubakar stated through his representative, Philip Ayuba, Assistant Commander-General.

The revelations from the NCoS and NSCDC underscore the need for systemic reforms to streamline the judicial process, ensure speedy trials, and uphold the fundamental rights of individuals awaiting trial in Nigeria’s correctional facilities.

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