Lawyers and other stakeholders have chided state governors for their failures to sign death warrants, thereby contributing to the congestion in the correctional centres across the country.
In a survey conducted by the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Osun, Ondo and Ekiti states on the congestion of correctional centres in the country, the lawyers and others decried the high population of prisoners on death row being fed by the government.
The respondents noted that the death penalty remained a provision of the law in Nigeria and since the governors had sworn to uphold the constitution, they had an obligation to sign death warrants on their table.
Dr Oreoluwa Odunniyi, a lecturer in the Department of Public Law, Faculty of Law, Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), called for accelerated hearing of inmates as a means of decongesting the correctional centres across the country.
Odunniyi, in an interview with NAN in Ile-Ife, said that majority of inmates in the correctional centres had been there for years without trial.
He said this posed serious challenge to the criminal justice system in the country.
Also, Mr Saheed Abiona, the chairman of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Osogbo Branch, said more than 3, 298 condemned inmates were on death row in the country due to the refusal of state governors signing their execution.
Abiona said that prompt and diligent prosecution of awaiting trial inmates would help in reducing prison congestion in the country.
He said that the Ministries of Justice and the Judiciary need to expedite trials of inmates languishing in prison to decongest the correctional centres.
An Akure based lawyer, Mr Yunusa Aliyu, decried prison congestion in the country and urged the Federal and state Governments to, as a matter of urgency, synergise with the judiciary to decongest the centers.
Aliyu, who used Olokuta Correctional Centre in Ondo State as an example, said that while the facility has accommodation for 272 inmates, it currently contains not less than 927 inmates.
“This is so bad. There needs to be a strategy to decongest the correction centres. Let the Chief Judges visit the prisons monthly in order to re-evaluate the cases of inmates with a view to release those with minor offences.
“Even those that have spent more than the time that they would have received for their offences if convicted, should be released,” he said.
In his view, Mr Festus Ajetunmobi, the coordinator of Justice Light Movement, a Non-Governmental Organisation, said that the best way to decongest the correctional facilities was to expedite the trials of inmates.
Ajetunmobi said that 40 percent of inmates in the Nigerian Correctional Centres were awaiting trial in courts.