*As Supreme Court judges visit Aso Rock villa
President Muhammadu Buhari has made a passionate appeal for the urgent decongestion of prisons in the country saying that what obtains in the nation’s prisons today is a national embarrassment.
The President spoke on Friday when he hosted the judges from the Supreme Court, at the Presidential Villa in Abuja. He said that the prisons in the country were overcrowded by up to 90% of its current capacity and needed to be decongested immediately through a new approach, to save the country from further embarrassment.
“We need a new approach to prisons decongestion. It is a national scandal that many prisons are overcrowded by up to 90%. Urgent new measures should be put in place to speedily decongest prisons not only in the interest of justice but to save cost for prisons maintenance and enhance the welfare of prisoners,” the president said.
The new approach by the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) the president said is “advocating establishment of courts inside the prisons to speed up decongestion. The logistical problem of transporting prisoners from prisons to courts means a difficult period for suspected detainees. This is really bad”.
The president said he was concerned about the daunting challenges faced by the judiciary in the areas of infrastructure and funding added that there is need to improve the welfare of the judiciary. This informed the increase in the judiciary’s budget in the 2017 fiscal year.
“We are not unmindful of the daunting challenges faced by the judiciary in the areas of infrastructure and funding. This informed our decision to increase the judiciary’s budget in the 2017 fiscal year which we are committed to sustain. I have asked the Attorney General to take up this matter with the salaries and wages commission for advice to the President,” he said.
“I really appreciate the efforts you are making. We know that the stability of the country depends on the police and the judiciary. When people believe that their cases will be speedily and justifiably treated, I am telling you, they will mind their own businesses, but when they are in cover with the police and the judiciary, then we have a problem. And the money that we need for development especially educational infrastructure and healthcare will be spent on security,” he said.
“If we try to mention the amount of money that we spend on the northeast and what is costing us to maintain the relative stability in the Niger Delta, the elite will hide its face in shame,” he stated further.
In an earlier remarks, the Chief Judge of the Federation, Justice Walter Onnoghen thanked God for healing the President and reassured him of the judiciary’s readiness to continue to do its best in the discharge of its responsibilities for the overall development of the country.