The Minister of Sports and Youth Development, Solomon Dalung has called for radical reform in the Nigerian criminal justice system.
Dalung made the call on Saturday in Jos when he celebrated his 54th birthday with inmates of the Prison Command in Jos. The minister said the call became necessary to strengthen criminal justice and ensure justice to all accused.
“There is need for radical reforms in our criminal justice delivery system. “You cannot keep somebody in prison for years without trial and at the end of the day, do justice to the person.
“There is urgent need for speedy dispensation of cases in our courts, for justice to be done,” he said. Dalung, a former prison officer, advised prison inmates be of good behaviour when they eventually gain their freedom.
The minister said that he would liaise with governors and Minister of Interior to ensure that prisoners that qualified for prerogative of mercy were released.
“This will help give freedom to those that merit it and it will help decongest our prisons. “I will also leave a token with the records department so that those who are to be set free but couldn’t pay their fines are freed.
He also donated a cow and toiletries among others to prisoners with a promise to provide sports facilities like footballs, jerseys, table tennis balls and nets for them.
On the prisoners’ request for study centres at the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN) in the prisons, Dalung promised to discuss the issue with vice chancellor of the university.
The Controller of the Command, Noel Ailewon, thanked Dalung for the gesture, saying that it would assist the inmates. Ailewon said that the visit was in line with what the holy scriptures admonished good believers to do, to visit prisoners.
He appealed to the minister to talk with governors to exercise their prerogative of mercy in order to decongest the prisons.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the inmates trilled the minister with cultural dances and special birthday songs to add colour to the event.