LASG: FG Rejected Proposal to Decongest Prisons under Tinubu Govt

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• Seeks relocation of prisons nationwide

Gboyega Akinsanmi

The Lagos State Government has disclosed how the federal government rejected its plan to resolve the challenges of overpopulation and sanitation in three prisons in the state under the administration of Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu.

 It, however, canvassed the relocation of the prisons across the federation to more spacious locations, which he said, would largely solve the problem of accommodation facing prison service.

The Secretary to the State Government, Mr. Tunji Bello, made the disclosure at a meeting with the state Comptroller of the Prisons Service, Mr. Tunde Ladipo and top officials of the Nigerian Prisons Service at the weekend.

At the meeting, Bello canvassed the need to relocate the prison yards across the federation “to more spacious locations as one of the means of accommodating more inmates adding that prisons in the state which include Maximum, Minimum and Ikoyi prisons are overpopulated.”

He explained that there was a time that the state government under the Tinubu administration planned to build massive prison yards in Epe and provide adequate facilities for members of staff in order to reduce the problems of overpopulation in the prisons.

 He explained that the federal government then rejected the proposal, which he said, had really compounded the challenges of overpopulation and sanitation in three prisons in the state.

He said the prisons in Lagos “are over populated one way or the other. In fact, Ikoyi Prison has always been having persistent problem on sanitation and this has remained unresolved.

“The prisons capacities have been exceeded and their facilities are over stretched. Transporting the inmates to court remains a serious burden to the staff as well,” Bello explained.

 He, however, noted that the administration of Governor Akinwunmi Ambode would continue to assist the State Command of the Nigerian Prisons Service with equipment and facilities to keep the prisons safe.

Bello also said the state was ready to embrace non-custodial punishment of offenders and would also liaise with the state Attorney General on the issue, lamenting that many people “are now being remanded in prison custody for civil offences like street trading among others.”

Also speaking at the meeting, Ladipo had commended the Ambode administration for its constant assistance to the state command of the Nigerian Prison Service despite the fact that it is a federal agency.

He also sought the assistance of the state government in providing security equipment like body scanners at the Prisons and the installation of close circuit cameras and watch towers to monitor the inmates.

He pleaded with the state government “to consider non-custodial sentences for people who run foul of the state Environmental Sanitation laws because many offenders convicted cannot pay the optional fine.”