Posted by AFP on
A top Nigerian prisons official warned the government yesterday against freeing thousands of inmates kept for years behind bars without trial, saying it would be like releasing “poison” onto the streets.
ABUJA: A top Nigerian prisons official warned the government yesterday against freeing thousands of inmates kept for years behind bars without trial, saying it would be like releasing “poison” onto the streets.
A government prisons study recommended that inmates who have been awaiting trial for 10 years or more should be considered for unconditional release, while those who have served longer than they would have if convicted should be freed immediately.
“They’ve stayed for so long, they’ve become traumatised. Some have become pathologically damaged. If you release them at this moment you are releasing poison,” said Ifediorah Orakwe, special assistant to the controller general of prisons.
He was not suggesting that these long-term prisoners should be ignored but that they should be brought to trial as soon as possible and the prisons system should be overhauled to allow for the rehabilitation of convicts, not just their punishment.
Orakwe lamented that “Nigerian society considers prison as the place where you put them away and you forget about them.”
He was speaking on the fringes of a brain-storming session at which ministers, prison officials, prosecutors, lawyers, police top brass and human rights campaigners discussed how to deal with 25,000 prisoners awaiting trial.
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