An NGO, Citizens United for the Rehabilitation of Errant (CURE-Nigeria), has urged state governments to complement the Federal Government’s effort to provide the Nigeria Prisons Service (NPS) with more vehicles.
The Executive Director of CURE-Nigeria, Mr Sylvester Uhaa, made the appeal in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Enugu on Saturday.
Uhaa said the shortage of vehicles, especially specialised vehicles like Black and Green Marias, Hilux Jeeps and Ambulances, contributed to delayed justice and increase in awaiting trial inmates in prisons.
Across Nigerian prisons which battle with congestion, awaiting trial inmates account for the majority of those behind bars.
President Muhammadu Buhari, months ago, called for urgent measures to decongest prisons across the country
He raised alarm over the state of the nation’s prisons, noting that it was a national scandal that many prisons were overcrowded by 90 per cent.
Uhaa said the inability of prison officials to take inmates to court on some occasions due to inadequate vehicles was a problem that needed more attention to make the state of the prisons better.
He said: “We call on state governments to support the efforts of the federal government by donating Black Marias and other specialised vehicles to prisons in their states.
“A situation where governors donate hundreds of vehicles to the police and none to the NPS, even when the prisons in their states are unable to take inmates, must not be allowed to continue,’’ he said.
The executive director noted that despite the approval of the purchase of over 300 vehicles for the NPS by the federal government, the problem of inadequate vehicles to take inmates to courts remained unsolved and lingered.
According to him, the development has hampered access to justice for inmates over the years.
“We are calling on government at all tiers and humanitarian organisations to urgently address the severe inadequacy of vehicles for transportation of inmates to and from courts each day,’’ Uhaa said.