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Inmates rising population in Calabar prisons worries comptroller

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By Joseph Kingston, Calabar

The Comptroller of Nigerian Correctional Centre, (also known as Afokang Prisons) in Calabar, Mr. Ima-Ikop Jimmy Ndaekong, has said the facility was becoming overstretched with increasing number of inmates.

 Ndaekong made the remarks during a tour of the Correctional Centre weekend by the Cross River State Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Barr. Tanko Ashang.

Calling on authorities concerned to do something about it speedily, the comptroller explained that the command had six centres across the state and that apart from the centres exceeding their capacity, there were no ambulances for urgent medical services and no strong operational vehicles to convey inmates to court.

He disclosed that Section 14 of the Nigerian Correctional Centre ACT, 2019, which repealed the Nigerian Prison ACT 2014,” gives inmates the right to seek high educational qualification up to tertiary level through National Open University of Nigeria”.

Ndaekong said the Correctional Centre was embarking on training of inmates on carpentry, tailoring, barbing and hair dressing, electrical/electronic maintenance, soap making amongst others. He appealed to the Government of Cross River and good spirited individuals to donate training tools to the Centre.

According to him, Section 12, Subsection 4 (a-e) of the ACT states that the State Comptroller shall within one week notify the Chief Judge of the State, Attorney-General of the State, the Prerogative of Mercy Committee and the Criminal Justices and any other relevant body of the state where the Custodian Centre has exceeded inmate population. He said he was using the forum to give the needed information for necessary action.

Responding, the commissioner said cases of inmates at the correctional centre would be reviewed, explaining that the purpose of this visit was to enable him have a first-hand information on the centre, particularly on the welfare and general well being of inmates to help him make meaningful inputs during the proposed meeting of the soon-to-be-in-place amnesty committee.

The attorney-general urged inmates to remain calm and disciplined, adding that their behavior could help the Amnesty Committee in their work. He said it was not enough for inmates to cry for freedom but that the lessons learnt during their incarcerations should be used to educate others outside on the need to be courteous with life, and therefore commended the comptroller for overseeing the affairs of the prisons well.

The Permanent Secretary and Solicitor General of the State, Mr Peter Bassey Anthigha, the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP), Barr Gregory Okem and the Special Assistant to the Attorney General, Mrs. Endurance Norbert Asim-Ita accompanied the commissioner to the centre.

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