THE Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Epe branch and the Nigerian Prison Service (NPS) have agreed to collaborate to find solutions to challenges faced by officials and inmates at the Ikoyi Prison in Lagos.
The association’s Vice chairman, Ademola Koko and the Assistant Controller-General of Ikoyi Prison, Akeem Saliu, stated this at the weekend, during the branch’s Human Rights Committee’s visit to the prison as part of activities marking the association’s inaugural Annual Law Week programme, themed Access to Justice.
Koko, who is also the chairman of the Human Rights Committee, said the visit would familiarise the association with problems confronting the prison system and would shape its recommendation to Lagos State Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode while he and the committee’s vice chairperson, Funmi Adeogun, offered the association’s legal assistance for indigent awaiting trial inmates.
They promised to seek government support for the funding of inmates’ education through full scholarships and enrolment in West African Senior School Certificate (WASSCE), Universities and Tertiary institutions Matriculation Exam (UTME) among others.
The five-man delegation also made donations of antiseptic soaps, washing liquids and toiletries to the Ikoyi Prison.
The one-week event will feature a lecture by, among others, Justice of the Supreme Court (JSC) G. A. Oguntade (Retd) in whose honour the event was organised.
Saliu, who hailed the visitors’ gesture, bemoaned the problems of electricity, funding to purchase drugs, transportation and over population of awaiting trial inmates among others.
He said that some of the inmates sometimes went without a bath when there was no electricity to pump water, particularly because there was inadequate fund to fuel the generator.
Saliu noted that the prison population consisted of 478 convicts and 2076 awaiting trial inmates sharing facilities meant for less than 1,000 persons and that “more might still be sent here before the end of the day.”
Highlighting the problem of underage inmates, he said courts sometimes mistakenly send juveniles to the prison rather than a borstal home and that this was unhealthy for their reformation and development.
He urged the NBA to seek government’s intervention in replacing or repairing a bus used for transporting inmates which was damaged in an accident during a trip from the Epe High Court.
Justice Oguntade’s media consultant, Ranti Thomas, who accompanied the delegation, said the jurist had paid his dues in service to the nation and that holding the Law Week in his honour was a worthy act.
Other speakers at the Law Week will also examine topics including Legalising professional surety in Nigeria, Legality or otherwise of remand in prison pending perfection of bail or trial, appraising the Land grabbers Law of Lagos State and the use of NBA stamp or seal.
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