Reforms Beyond Construction of New Prisons

By Abubakar Tijjani

It’s no gainsaying that Nigerian prisons have been neglected for years by successive Nigerian governments from independence to date. Most of our prison yards were built during the colonial periods when they were located adjacent to traditional institutions, especially in Northern Nigeria. Can we say that the condition with which Nigerian prisons are was courtesy of the colonial periods.


A prison is meant for reforming convicted offenders but our country’s situation is different from what is obtained in the advanced world and other nations that meant well for their citizens. The high rate of crimes in Nigeria make our prisons to be congested with criminals beyond their capacity. The terrifying situation is also influenced by the judiciary in delay dispensing justice.


Unfortunately studies have shown that majority of Nigerian prisoners are with minor offences and are mostly awaiting trials, while others are there for human right abuses among others which are bailable.


It’s disheartening and a call for concern when countries like Netherlands are closing their prisons for lack of offenders, the present Nigerian Government under President Muhammadu Buhari is constructing new cells in the six geopolitical zones of the federation. Why will the government engage in this venture, instead of evolving policies and programme that could dissuade citizens from committing crimes.


Building a new prison in the name of reformation, to me is a misplaced priority. There have been outcries across the country on the conditions of Nigerian prisons but the governments kept deaf ears to the calls which could have led to addressing the worsening conditions of our prison s.

The damage has been done already by not adequately maintaining the conditions of our detention centres before now. Reformation at this juncture requires a critical look at robust policies that could be introduced towards the decongestion.


Governments at all levels should workout strategies to decongest our prisons and make reforms towards sanitizing justice system that encourage large awaiting trial inmates in our prisons.


Abubakar Tijjani is a student From Department of media and information studies Bayero University Kano.



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