Abduljelil Odunlami, a Deputy Controller of Corrections (DCC), Nigerian Correctional Service (NCoS), says 1,100 inmates from the Agodi Correctional Centre in Ibadan are currently awaiting trial for various offences.
Odunlami, while visiting the Ibadan Branch of Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), said the facility currently housed a total of 1,244 inmates.
He added that the inmates comprise 24 female and 1,220 male, with 144 of the total number of inmates already convicted of various offences.
Odunlami disclosed that the aim of the visit was to seek for cooperation and support of members of the Ibadan Branch of NBA in helping inmates.
”We want you to assist inmates without financial means to get legal assistance, as our Agodi facility is housing many inmates who do not have financial capacity to get legal aid,” he said.
He added that the Agodi Correctional Centre was supposed to house inmates in the Ibadan axis by virtue of regulations.
“But some inmates are now being taken to the Oyo axis, and this is an aberration to the NCoS.”
Odunlami said the awaiting trial inmates needed NBA’s support for a quick dispensation of justice, especially those who do not have the financial capacity to get lawyers and are with critical sickness.
“If an offender within Ibadan is being remanded in the Oyo town correctional facility, there may be delay in justice.
“There may be an attack on the road, as well as the problem of safety on the road. Time must also be considered.
“So, I want us to join hands and work together to ensure that inmates within Ibadan are retained in the Agodi correctional facility for a quick administration of justice.
“Government is doing its best, but corporate organisations and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) like NBA also need to complement government’s efforts in the provision of welfare packages for inmates,” he said.
In her response, the Chairperson of Ibadan Branch of NBA, Folashade Aladeniyi, said the awaiting trial inmates have constitutional rights to be visited.
She said this would be within a specified timeframe and by their relations and lawyers without any financial obligation.
The chairperson, who was represented by the branch’s Secretary, Olakunle Akintola, urged correctional facility officers to ensure easy protocol for relations’ attention without intimidation or extortion.
Aladeniyi also urged correctional officers to always ensure proper evaluation of inmates to be presented for pardon or release during facility decongestion exercise, especially inmates with critical and life-threatening sickness.
“We are still finding it difficult to get medical certificates from medical facilities within correctional centres to apply for bail applications in courts.
“Something must be done about this because the medical facilities within the correctional facilities can not handle some inmates’ sickness,” the chairperson said.
Speaking also, Olakunle Faokunla, Chairman of the Advocacy Committee of Ibadan Branch of NBA, assured of continued partnership between the NBA and correctional centres in the state.
He said this would be in the areas of administration of justice and welfare support.
“Our branch has been visiting correctional facilities in the state and will continue to engage with the inmates to provide necessary support when needed.”