Criminal justice system and overcrowding

THE Nigerian Correctional Service (NCoS) detention centers have exceeded their combined carrying capacity of 58,278 by more than 16,000, a development that has continued to fuel aggression among inmates and overload the system. Speaking at the second Comptroller General of Corrections Retreat held in Sokoto, Comptroller General of Corrections (CGC) Haliru Nababa explained that the retreat aims to draw and outline a five-year direction for the service in line with the Ministerial Retreat held in Ilorin, 2021. He said, “The NCoS operates 244 facilities, including 20 agricultural centers, 10 cottage industries, one open camp and four Borstal training institutions. “The current capacity of Nigerian detention centers stands at 58,278 against a population of over 75,000 detainees. In recent times, Nigerian detention centers have seen relentless attacks organized and executed from outside. Based on the above explanations, the NCoS took the following actions: the formation and activation of the NCoS Rapid Response Team; Sharing intelligence with other security agencies and strengthening their presence in Nigerian detention centers; and sensitize and encourage state governments to implement non-custodial measures.

I would like to point out that approximately 80 p. 100 of the detainees are on the list of persons awaiting trial. They are held for minor offenses and subject to bail, but they are often never brought to justice after their first appearance. As a result, they remain in overcrowded prisons for years, far longer than the time they would have served had they been brought to justice, tried and sentenced. They live in overcrowded and degrading conditions, ravaged by disease and hunger and psychologically ruined. Do not blame Rauf Aregbesola, Minister of Home Affairs, but the judiciary for the continued congestion of correctional facilities due to the slow pace of justice in Nigeria. Corrections officials should not be blamed for the failures in the correctional courts as they alerted authority, particularly the court system, to the overcrowding. Correctional facility officials provide monthly updates to the state and federal attorney general on challenges and the unresolved situation over the years. Each month, the service writes to the attorneys general to inform them of the evolution of the number of detainees and the situation of congestion, but that remained as is.

Officials are working under pressure to ensure prisons are not overcrowded, adding that sometimes they have to ferry inmates to various courts with their money on a daily basis. Judges and Chief Magistrates must respect the law by regularly visiting detention centers in order to decongest the premises. Section 34 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015 requires the Chief Justices of the Federal High Court, Federal Capital Territory High Court and State High Courts to appoint judges and Chief Magistrates to conduct monthly visits and inspections to all police stations and other places of detention in all states of the federation and the FCT. The purpose of this Practice Direction is to implement and ensure compliance with the overriding objective of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015, as expressed in section 1(1) of this law, in particular to: ensure the efficiency and rapidity of the management of the files of the criminal trials and the administration of justice, the protection of the interests and fundamental human rights of the accused, the victim, the witnesses and society; in particular the right to a fair trial, and ensuring the active participation of all parties to focus on the issues that are genuinely at issue for trial, thereby reducing delays and expense in trials.


These Practice Directions apply to all criminal trials in magistrates’ courts, high courts, magistrates’ courts and other courts trying criminal cases in the Federal Capital Territory. The directive of the National Judicial Council is not respected by many judicial authorities, hence the constant arrests, detentions and torture of citizens by the police and other security agencies. “However, the recently enacted Nigeria Police Act 2020 has imposed on all Chief Magistrates and Judges the obligation to carry out monthly visits and inspections of all police stations and other detention facilities under their jurisdiction. other than correctional centres.Section 70(1) also provides that the Chief Magistrate, or where there is no Chief Magistrate within the Police Division, any magistrate designated by the Judge in chief for this purpose, shall, at least monthly, conduct an inspection of police stations or other places of detention within his territorial jurisdiction other than prison,” reads a section of the statement. provides that during a visit, the magistrate may request and inspect the arrest report, order the arraignment of the suspect and, in the event of refusal of bail, grant bail to any suspect, if appropriate , if the offense for laq How the suspect is held is within the jurisdiction of the magistrate.

It is up to the judiciary to activate and implement the provisions of the law in order to put an end without further delay to the relentless arrests and prolonged detention of the Nigerian people. “We strongly believe that if all detention centers in the country are now regularly inspected by Chief Judges and Magistrates as required by law, the people of Nigeria will no longer be subjected to unlawful arrest and detention by the police and other security agencies. In particular, there will be no basis for #EndSARS and any similar campaign now or in the future. We are therefore compelled to call on the judges and chief magistrates to perform their duties under Section 70 of the Police Act,” he said. I have to blame the threat of congested correctional centers on the nature of the criminal justice system in Nigeria despite the fact that the funding is limited The criminal justice system encompasses all the paraphernalia of the judicial system in Nigeria ranging from the police, courts, correctional centers and other law enforcement agencies The investigation takes weeks or words is to end and when a case is concluded after investigation and brought to court for trial, if charges are not filed against them in a court of competent jurisdiction, there will be a delay.

  • Donald writes via