The Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola, has said the increasing number of inmates awaiting trial is having a toll on the custodian centres and the available resources for the service.
Aregbesola, who blamed the congestion of prisons on the slow dispensation of justice, proposed that from the arrest of suspects to the conclusion of their cases in court, the period should not go beyond a year.
He expressed confidence that this was possible, adding that it took him 42 months to reclaim his mandate in Osun State but now took less than a year to conclude election tribunal cases.
Aregbesola spoke on day two of the Nigerian Correctional Service retreat for senior officers in Sokoto on Tuesday.
The minister said, “Let there be a strong advocacy for rapid dispensation of justice. When I went to court to get my mandate that was stolen in Osun the process lasted 42 months. It was precisely six months to the expiration of the tenure that my mandate was returned.
“It was that experience that forced the judiciary to say every litigation on governorship election must not last more than a year and since then they have kept to it. To reduce the number of inmates awaiting trial we must ensure that the time from arrest to conviction must not go beyond a year.
“If this is done, we will reduce the large percentage of inmates in our correctional centers. We will also be able to reduce the humongous cost of feeding them and the lack of not having enough resources.
“If we can reduce the number of awaiting trial inmates by cutting short the period of trial to a maximum of 12 months the amount we are going to save from feeding them will be enough to revamp the service and our centers.”
Aregbesola also bemoaned what he described as unbefitting status of some of the correctional facilities across the country, urging the personnel to mobilise community efforts to change the facial appearance of the facilities.