… Establishes custodian home for minors
The High Court of Justice of Nasarawa State has undertaken a visit to all the five custodian facilities in the state, aimed at repositioning and decongesting the centres as well as review cases of inmates awaiting trial.
The Chief Judge of the state, Aisha Aliyu Bashir, who is also the Chairman, Judicial Service Commission (JSC), led the quarterly prison visits, accompanied by all the stakeholders in the justice system, including some High Court Judges, Legal Aids Council of Nigeria, Human Right Commission, NBA, representatives from the Ministry of Justice and the Nigeria Police, among others.
Some of the facilities visited included; Nasarawa medium in Nasarawa Local Government, old Keffi and Keffi modern custodian centre in Keffi Local Government, Wamba facility in Wamba Local Government and the Lafia Correctional Centre.
During the visits, some inmates were released. Those affected have been awaiting trials, but after a review of their cases and it was discovered that they were not supposed to be in custody in the first place.
Speaking to newsmen at the end of the visit to the custodian facilities, Aisha Bashir said that the tour was a routine exercise to review cases of inmates awaiting trials, with a view to ensuring that justice was served.
The Chief Judge, however, gave the breakdown of those released from the various custodian facilities as; Lafia 25, Wamba eight; Nasarawa nine; Keffi Modern Custodian Centre nine and six from Keffi Old Custodian Centre.
“The exercise is aimed at seeing to the health and well-being of the inmates and discharge those who were wrongly detained.
“The custodian facilities were not meant to punish the inmates, but to reform them and make them better persons afterward,” she said.
She urged judges of lower courts to desist from sending accused persons to correctional centres unnecessarily, so that, the facilities would not be congested.
“Always try settlement, plea bargain to settle parties, except if it is unavoidable before you send accused to custodian centres,” she said.
She warned the discharged inmates to stay away from crimes or risk the chances of facing maximum punishment if caught again.
The Chief Judge also warned judiciary staff against indulging in corrupt practices, saying that anyone caught would be sanctioned accordingly.
She disclosed that the state would soon establish custodian home for minors who were caught commiting offences contrary to the law.
She said that it was wrong to put minors in the same facilities with adult, hence the need to have a separate home for them.
‘I have consulted with Governor Abdullahi Sule that the isolation centre used during the COVID-19 pandemic, at Shabu community of Lafia, state capital, be used for this purpose.
“The facility is well secured and furnished already and once our memo is approved, we shall have where to keep minors who committed offence,” she added.
The Chief Judge said that based on the mandate of her office, she has been empowered to go round the custodian facilities from time to time to review cases of awaiting trial inmates with a view to ensuring that justice is served.
She advised the released inmates to work hard and convince the society that they are now reformed, to enable the public trust them again and accept them.
Inusa Adamu, Controller of Correctional centres in Nasarawa State, on his part expressed gratitude to the Chief Judge for the visit, which usually brings hope, peace and sustain security in the facilities.
The Controller appealed to the Chief Judge to ensure that judges adopt the instrument of alternative dispute resolution, especially for persons accused of minor offences in order to decongest the facilities.
Adamu also disclosed that based on the amendment of the law establishing the service, they have started rejecting minors in the state and appealed to the Chief Judge to facilitate the establishment of custodian home for minor offenders.
He added that most of the custodian centres were already overstretched, carrying more than two times their original capacities.