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Correctional service in A/Ibom says 70% inmates awaiting trial

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The Correctional Service, Akwa Ibom State Command, has said that 70 per cent of inmates in their facilities are awaiting trial.

State Controller of the Service, Mr Alex Oditah, said the four facilities in the state have been over stretched because of the large number of inmates awaiting trial, adding that currently the facilities have a total of 2,559 inmates against its carrying capacity of 1,336.

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He said the Uyo Correctional Centre has capacity for 613 inmates but currently accommodates 1,282 inmates; Ikot Ekpene centre has 400 capacity, but accommodates 756 inmates; Eket centre has 123 capacity but now holds 365 inmates, while Ikot Abasi centre has 200 capacity but has 156 inmates.

Speaking yesterday in Uyo during a media briefing on the 1st Inmates’ Rehabilitation Concert Unity for Success Security Week 2019, with theme ‘Effective Leadership: A Recipe for Peace, Security and National Development’, Oditah said 41 inmates, comprising 39 males and two females are on death row. He explained that some of the inmates who have passed through their custodial centres have truly been rehabilitated, but many who were released have become hardened because of rejection from the society and their families.

“70 per cent of those who are in our facilities are awaiting trial. It becomes difficult for us to engage them in any particular skill because their date of discharge is not known.

“If an inmate who is in our facility awaiting trial is sent to the tailoring section, and the tailoring section is supposed to carry out tutelage for about three years, and by the time the person spends two months, he is let go, it defeats the very purpose of rehabilitation.

“But for those whose date of discharge is known, it becomes very easy. If someone has three years imprisonment, you know the actual section to send him to, either tailoring or shoe making. It is very difficult to send an awaiting trial to any particular skill centre because his date of discharge is obviously not known. These are the very serious challenges in rehabilitating and reforming some of the inmates.

“It is believed that people who go to prison become more hardened. For us, we don’t believe it is supposed to be so, but why is it so? It is because those of them who pass through our institution and have acquired skills and are sent to the larger society, we first reject them, the society rejects them and even their families reject them.

“There are people out there who are ready to accept them, so we are appealing to the public to know that some of them who have passed through our institution are truly rehabilitated, and they have a job,” he stated.

Oditah said they were hopeful that when the 2019 Act of the Correctional Service is approved and becomes law, many of the challenges of the agency, especially the problem of congestion in their facilities would be solved.

He however lamented that the Correctional Service was the least celebrated among security agencies in the country, and hoped the situation would change.

He revealed that the committee which was set up by the Controller General to investigate the alleged death of an inmate and the crisis that resulted from the incidence has concluded its assignment.

He stated that as soon as the report on the investigation is ready, it would be made public.

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