While speaking at the 2017 All Nigerian Judgesâ€™ Conference of Superior Courts in Abuja recently, President Muhammadu Buhari said he has directed governors and state chief judges to release prisoners who are unnecessarily detained within their domains, as part of ongoing reforms in judiciary.
At the forum with a theme â€˜Strengthening Judicial Integrity and the Rule of Lawâ€™, the president explained that over-crowding in prisons alongside other problems in judiciary have caused loss of confidence in the system, and added that the public expect fairness, impartiality and speed in the administration of justice.
PMB urged the judges to pay close attention to efforts at reforming the system, with strict adherence to the Rule of Law. He also restated that the objective of his administration was to combat endemic graft and other forms of corruption in public life.
The presidential directive is already yielding results and pardons for many unfortunate citizens who were bundled by the police into prisons to spend their prime years in confinement over often-times imaginary crimes. Ironically, the prison, which is meant to be a corrective facility for offenders, has turned to a training centre for hardened criminals.
Also, aside a few high-profile political prisoners who stood trial in alleged murder or treason cases in recent years, one can hardly find any rich or well-connected citizen in prison nowadays. In Nigeria, the prison is reputedly for the foolish and the poor.
While applauding the presidentâ€™s directive to sanitise the prison system, he also needs to be reminded that some sacred cows need to also speedily taste life behind the prison walls, in the ongoing fight against corruption. Until that is done, adherence to rule of law will only apply to the less-privileged, and not to corrupt fat cats…sad scenario