Thirty-nine inmates awaiting trial for over 10 years at Keffi Custodian Center in Nasarawa State, North-central Nigeria have been released. Their release was facilitated by the Legal Aid Council of Nigeria, according to a report by Voice of Nigeria.
Aliyu Abubakar, the Director General of Legal Aid Council, disclosed the development to staff of Nasarawa State’s Ministry of Justice in Lafia the state capital. Abubakar stated that the council was currently offering free legal services to a lot of indigent inmates and people across the country in line with its mandate.
Over 40 inmates, he said, were discovered awaiting trial for more than 10 years at the centre without any progress on their case. “Though the cases were from the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), as of today, we have been able to get 39 of them out of the custodian centre,” Abubakar said.
He reiterated the Council’s commitment to its mandate of free legal services to those who cannot afford such services whether in detention or on bail.
Abdulkarim Kana, Nasarawa State’s Commissioner for Justice and Attorney-General assured “that the state government would partner with the Legal Aid Council of Nigeria to ensure justice to indigent inmates in the state.”
“The ministry, having only 42 lawyers, works tirelessly round the clock to ensure timely prosecution and delayed justice,” Kana said.
“In the effort to decongest the custodian centers, the ministry has set up a committee to work out modalities for plea bargain as contained in the amended criminal justice laws in the state.”
“It’s better for them to be convicted than to be detained awaiting trials for many years,” he added.
The Attorney General added that the ministry has started working on a portal for all inmates to monitor their activities to ascertain when they are admitted or released from custodian centers.
African Justice Criminal Reform in a report states that “more than 70 per cent of over 50,000 inmates across the country Nigeria are awaiting trial.
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