The Lagos State chapter of the Committee for the Defence of Human Rights (CDHR) has urged the out going Governor of Lagos State, Akinwunmi Ambode to decongest the prisons in the state before the expiration of his term,on May 29th.
The Chairman of the Lagos State Chapter of CDHR, Comrade Alex Omotehinse
speaking during a courtesy call on the State Government as part of the activities lined up to commemorate the 30th Anniversary of the group on Thursday, said that a visit to Ikoyi and Kirikiri Maximum/Medium Prisons during the week revealed that they were congested and urged the state government to intervene in the matter.
Omotehinse also condemned the spate of extra judicial killings by the police with reference to the recent killing of one Kolade Johnson by the police in Mangoro area of Lagos State.
According to him, most of the people in the Nigerian prisons are those, who committed minor offences and whose cases were still being delayed by needed advice from the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP), who he said had little time to go through the files.
“Today is the Day 5 of our 30th Anniversary. CDHR was formed in April,1989 when a unionist, now a lawyer, Mr. Femi Aborishade was detained under Decree 2 by the then government of Ibrahim Babangida.
“We have visited the prisons and we saw the deplorable conditions under which the inmates are being kept.
“Part of our discovery is that one of the prisons had 3000 inmates over its capacity. Many of the people in the prisons are victims of circumstances.
We are challenging the police to respect human dignity. We want them to respect human rights. If they want to take people to court, they should do so.
“For instance, they take someone that commits capital offence to a magistrate court that does not have jurisdiction and then the file would be taken to the DPP that would not attend to it for eight or even nine months.
“We are not encouraging building of more prisons. We want the government to decongest the prisons in Badagry, Kirikiri, Ikoyi and others.
We have a lot of cases that are pending there. A file that is not up to 30 pages would be pending with the DPP for months,” he said.
On extra judicial killings, he said that this should be condemned by all right thinking persons.
He recalled that he led a protest when three people were killed in Makoko last year.
“Police officers who shoot people to death were allowed to go scot free in the past. But I am impressed that this time around, the State Commissioner of Police has paid a condolence visit to the family of the deceased.It is only a court of competent jurisdiction that can sentence people to death.
“Some of the people in the prisons were made to sign their statements under duress. We want to appeal to Governor Akinwunmi Ambode to decongest the prisons and we the Attorney General of the state should also be up and doing,” he said.
The activists were later addressed by the Special Adviser to the Governor (SSA) on Civic Engagement, Hon. Taiwo Aiyedun.
Aiyedun commended the members of the CDHR for their courage and for fighting for the common man, adding that the state government identifies with their agitations.
Omotehinse later presented a letter and a big portrait of Ambode to Mr. Aiyedun for onward transmission to the Governor, who he commended for his various developmental strides all over the state.