The Nigeria Prisons Service plans to establish Borstal homes in Enugu and Bayelsa States, to serve the South East and South regions of the country.
When fully operational, the borstal homes will complement the existing facilities in Kaduna, Abeokuta and Ilorin, for the reformation of juvenile offenders.
The Comptroller of Prisons in Anambra state, Mr Emmanuel Nwakeze, disclosed this in Awka while speaking with a team of Media and Civil Society support group who are committed to the reform of justice sector.
He stated that the two projects which are nearing completion are located at Ngwo in Enugu State, and Ogbia in Bayelsa State.
Mr Nwakeze said the current system where police officers investigate crime and prosecute suspects in courts have contributed to the high population of awaiting trial inmates, leading to congestion of prison facilities in the country.
The Prisons Comptroller explained that Police officers who are not legal practitioners were trained to investigate crimes and not to carry out prosecution of suspects in courts, alleging that such officers muddle up the cases and facilitate the dumping of suspects in prison, as soon as they are transferred out of the court’s jurisdiction.
According to him, “even if the police must be allowed to continue with their prosecutorial powers, then each case should have a team of police prosecutors, so that the absence of one officer would not stall the criminal trial. This is inline with international best practices, which has been adopted by other Anti-graft agencies like EFCC and ICPC”.
Mr Nwakaeze therefore called for the review of all relevant laws in the criminal justice sector to remove police officers who are non-lawyers, from prosecuting cases, especially at the Magistrate Courts.
He assured that the authorities of the Nigeria Prisons Service are now more open to human right activists, Civil Societies and charitable organizations that can undertake free legal services for prison inmates.
Earlier, the leader of the group, Mr Ejiofo Umegbogu, said the advocacy visit was aimed at interfacing with relevant stakeholders in the justice sector including the police, prisons, Judiciary and Anti-graft agencies, with a view to increasing citizens participation in the ongoing reform of the criminal justice sector, being by the Rule of Law and Anti-Corruption, RoLAC, programme of the British Council, with support from the European Union.