The Nigeria Prison Service, NPS, on Thursday said that it spends N818,550 daily to feed the 1,819 inmates across the six prisons in Nasarawa state.
Patrick Dalyop, State Controller of Prisons, disclosed this on Thursday in Lafia, while addressing a summit on criminal justice reforms and human rights in Nasarawa State.
Mr Dalyop, represented by Rabiu Ibrahim, decried the level of congestion in prisons across the state.
He disclosed that the state’s six prisons had a carrying capacity of only 908 inmates, but currently housed 1,819 inmates.
According to the controller, each inmate is fed with N450 daily.
He identified inadequate health personnel as a major challenge facing the prisons, and called for government intervention in that direction.
“None of the prison formations in the state can boast of a single doctor as we have to refer ailing inmates to hospitals for treatment,’’ he said.
Mr Dalyop stressed the need for stakeholders to increase free legal services as part of efforts to decongest the prison, saying that most inmates awaiting trial in the state could not afford legal services.
He commended Governor Umaru Al-Makura’s recent intervention in securing the freedom of over 60 inmates by paying their fines.
The controller appealed to magistrates and judges in the state to consider options such as fines, unconditional bail, community service, parole and suspended sentences as alternative to remand orders and imprisonment to decongest the prisons.
He harped on the need for criminal justice reforms that would decriminalise certain offences that are not very serious, but often resulted in remand and imprisonment.
“The state ministry of justice should consider proactive sentencing, guidelines for judges and magistrates.
“The state government should also support the Legal Aid Council with logistics in order to assist indigent offenders languishing in the various prisons in the state,’’ Mr Dalyop said.
Nor Chia-Shaku, Nasarawa State Coordinator, National Human Rights Commission, NHRC, urged stakeholders to embrace alternative conflict resolution mechanism.
Mr Chia-Shaku said that alternative conflict resolution mechanism was an integral aspect of the criminal justice reform.
Also, the Chief Judge of the state, Justice Suleiman Dikko, said the judiciary in the state had taken far-reaching measures towards speedy dispensation of justice aimed at decongesting the prisons.
Mr Dikko directed lower courts to reject cases beyond their jurisdiction as well as conduct regular prison visits to release inmates that were wrongly detained.