Northern Nigerian Breaking News

Group begins moves to decongest prisons, facilitates trials of 6,000 inmates

The Public and Private Development Centre (PPDC) says it facilitates speedy trial of about 6,000 Court cases to decongest  correctional centres in five states of the country

The Senior Programme Manager, PPDC, Mr Kenechukwu Agwu, disclosed this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Monday in Abuja.

Agwu said since 2022, the Reforming Pre-trial Detention in Nigeria Project (RPDN), one of the Centre’s initiatives, had targeted providing legal representation to about 1,750 detainees every year across five states.

The five states, according to him were Adamawa, Plateau, Nasarawa state, Kaduna state and the Federal Capital Territory.

“Our Target is not just in bringing them out from the detention centres but that they should have access to free legal representation. For instance, we are also doing what we call the police duty solicitor’s scheme.

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“This scheme features lawyers, who will be present at police stations to ensure that, in line with the Administration of Criminal Justice System (ACJS), nobody is interviewed or interrogated without a lawyer being present.

“We are not just stopping at a lawyer being present. For instance, if the matter is about to go to court and persons involved don’t have lawyers, we will now provide lawyers, who will provide these services to them at no cost to the detainees,” he explained.

On PPDC engagement with Administration of Criminal Justice Monitoring committees (ACJMCs), Agwu said through the Centre’s projects initiatives, Adamawa ACJMC was revived after over two years.

“It is worthy to point out that in the last six months, we started the phase two of the Reforming Pre-trial Detention in Nigeria Project and we have experienced a very huge stakeholders’ buying-in of what we are doing.

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“For instance, in Adamawa in the last two to three years, the Administration of Criminal Justice Monitoring Committee for some reasons have not been able to sit. But last week, our Adamawa state team helped to ensure the committee which is  statutorily established to monitor the implementation of the ACJ at the state levels was able to have its quarterly meeting for the first time”, he said.

He added that the Centre also deployed speech-to-text devices to courts in three states – Plateau, Nasarawa, Kaduna – to enhance court administration and case management in the judicial sector.

According to him, PPDC digitised the record system, moved out all the physical records, so the chief judge does not need to be present in the state before a case can be assigned to a judge.

“Having the records of all the cases in digitized forms, all he needs to do is to assign the cases from his laptop or his cellphone”, he explained.

Agwu further said that the Centre had also gone ahead to network these systems to correction facilities.”

He explained that with the devices, the detainee now used the system in the corrections to appear online in court.

He disclosed that two of the Centre’s projects were funded by the U.S government through its Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement.


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