There are accused people spending 12 to 15 years awaiting trial in Nigeria.
Currently there are over 76,000 Nigeria prison inmates, housed in 240 correctional centres and about 70% of them are still awaiting trial. They have been arrested and charged but not yet convicted or cleared. This is the highest percentage of awaiting-trial prisoners in Africa. World Prison Brief’s latest report shows that Ghana is 12.4%, while South Africa accounts for 32.9%. Nigeria’s constitution, section 36(5), enshrined the presumption of innocence, which states that every person charged with a criminal offence shall be presumed innocent until their guiltiness is proven legally.
But to be realistic in the Nigerian system, several researchers have revealed that many people accused of crimes are presumed guilty, arrested and imprisoned before their cases are investigated. Also, the court system beset by delays and backlogs has been proven to contribute to the delay of inmates’ trials. According to a report, accused people could spend 3 to 10 years awaiting trial in the US and 12 to 15 years in Nigeria. Under section 296 of the 2015 Administration of Criminal Justice Act, which states that the period of the remand should not exceed 28 days, the long wait is practically against the law.
Study reveals approaches to address the trial delay.
In the government’s efforts to address the situation, there have been some free legal services through the Legal Aid Council, which provides free legal assistance and representation, legal advice and alternative dispute resolution to indigent Nigerians. This is geared towards ensuring Nigerians access to justice, but the problem persists and seems intractable, which has propelled the notion of a technological solution in a view that it might help enhance the issue of backlogs. Following the imperative need to discover and address the impediments inducing long awaiting-trial periods, a study was carried out at two correctional centres in Abakaliki and Afikpo, towns in Ebonyi State in southeast Nigeria.
As a result, it was discovered that the major causes of delays include the slow pace of investigation by the police, the loss of case files, the inadequate court system, and poor access to lawyers. According to the findings, a repository portal system could help address most of the issues delaying trials. The portal would be a database where information about accused persons and their current trial status would be stored and easily accessible. Material relating to investigations and police findings could be uploaded to the portal, which would automatically allocate cases, depending on the nature of the alleged offences, to the relevant court.
The repository system is the first-ever in the African continent.
Additionally, this would aid in addressing the challenges of loss or manipulation of data by criminal justice agents, such as the police and correctional centre officials. It also tackles the challenges posed by sorting through large files manually. Such a system will be the first-ever in the African continent. On the study carried out, it was focused on 1,343 inmates at Abakaliki and Afikpo correctional centres, out of which 845 (63%) were awaiting trial. Structured questionnaires and unstructured in-depth interviews were used, with a sample of 1,498 respondents drawn from the Nigerian criminal justice agencies and awaiting trials.
Participants were asked about experiences incurred in the criminal justice system, whether the processes were automated or manual, and how the process affected their experience. This was channeled to identifying the gaps caused by manual methods in the system and determining how information and communication technology could bridge the gap. Some of the problems identified are losses of case files, degradation of evidence, delays in preparing inmates for court appearances and concluding cases, and improper allocation of cells. This has questioned Nigeria’s criminal justice bureaucracy system, which operates on a manual process.
Criminal justice agents also support the repository system.
Furtherly, it was discovered that 39.1% of the police officers (241 of 617), 69% of the prison officials (100 of 145) and 53.1% of the court officials (60 of 113) support the notion that automation of the criminal justice processes using a repository system could help address the delays. Likewise, the interviewed criminal justice agents also emphasized the importance of linking and automating all the agencies with a repository system. It was proposed that the information on the portal should categorize offences as simple, misdemeanor or felony and controlled by an organized independent body.
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Nigeria prison system is in shambles because out there many people have been standing awaiting trials for years and they are just rotten out in prison when there case is attended to years they would spend is not even up to what they spent during their awaiting trials.
This bad situation of the prison should really cause for concern by the right authority.How can 70% prison inmates be awaiting trial in a country like Nigeria?.The justice system in the country need urgent overhaul restructuring.
Out justice system is not robust enough in the dissemination of justice. A lot of inmates are still awaiting trial for a long period of time. The judiciary should come up with ways to ensure administration of justice is done quickly.
This is the sad reality. Quite a number of prisoners have been awaiting trial for years. Some cases never even got investigated, they just locked up suspect, who are most likely innocent. The Nigerian justice system need a retouch
it is right that all persons accused of a crime will be assumed innocent until their guilt is confirmed beyond a reasonable doubt.
Several academics have shown that many people accused of crimes in Nigeria are automatically considered guilty, detained, and incarcerated before their cases are investigated.
It has been established that a court system that is plagued by delays and backlogs is a contributing factor to the delay of inmates’ trials.
As part of its response, the government has funded the provision of free legal services through the Legal Aid Council, an organization that offers low- or no-cost representation in court.
It is only fair that everyone who has been accused of a crime be treated as though they are innocent until their guilt has been established beyond a shadow of a doubt.
There are quite a few detainees who have been waiting for their trials for years. Some cases were never even investigated.
The site would function as a database where details about defendants and their pending trials could be stored and accessed with ease.
The judicial system should devise measures to ensure that the administration of justice is carried out in a timely manner.
It was suggested that the portal be managed by an impartial body and include classifications for different levels of offense (minor, major, and felony).
The judiciary should find solutions to speed up the administration of justice for the many people who have been in jail for years without a trial.
Technology adoption is the best answer to this delaying issue. The necessary authority should help sort this out quick cause part of those in jail might not be guilty and just get punishing for nothing.
How can 70% prison inmates be awaiting trial in a country like Nigeria?.The justice system in the country need urgent overhaul restructuring asap!
However, it must be acknowledged that the Nigerian legal system often treats those accused of crimes as guilty before they have a chance to prove their innocence, as multiple researchers have found.
Our legal system need to be reconstructed people are waiting many year in jail for trial it should not be done that way something need to be done to our legal system
There are accused people spending 12 to 15 years awaiting trial in Nigeria. Why all this time. Is getting too long, they need to reduce the year
Our system of policing and investigating is still backward. By now our Police should have gone paperless using technology and science with recent electronic gadget to carry out investigations ; and for data management a would have been so useful for such.
Generally the Nigerian system has not been encouraging. Government should make available the technological support that will heathen the processes of trial and reduce the number of inmate in the prisons