A bill to reform Nigerian prisons on Wednesday passed second reading at the floor of the Senate.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the bill was sponsored by senators Oluremi Tinubu (APC-Lagos) Shaba Lafiagi (APC-Kwara) and Babajide Omoworare APC-Osun).
Contributing Tinubu, said the bill was to provide for a mother and baby unit in all prisons for use by female prisoners who are nursing mothers.
“The Comptroller-General of Prisons shall mandate the Superintendent of a prison to provide a crèche and a mother and baby unit with qualified staff for babies between zero to 36 months born to female prisoners serving jail terms at various prisons in Nigeria.
“Where this child is born in prison, this fact shall not be written in the birth certificate.
“The Superintendent shall permit female prisoners, who are nursing mothers, to live in the unit until the babies are weaned at 24 months and handed over to the crèche attendants for the remaining 12 months of stay.”
On his part, Lafiagi said the restructuring of the prisons will make for total overhaul of the attendant problems of the prison system.
“The recurring problems of administration of prisons in Nigeria, the unlawful detention of persons without bail has attained an alarming dimension.
“In 2015 alone, a total of 65,000 Nigerians were incarcerated out of which 47,745 were awaiting trial across the prison formations in Nigeria.”
Lafiagi explained further that the unlawful detention of accused persons runs fowl of the legal principle that “it is better for 99 guilty persons to go free than for one innocent person to be punished unjustly.”
“Awaiting trial detention has been known to have increased the likelihood of detainees to continue their life of crime,” he decried.
He said that the degrading conditions within prisons had caused concerns and could best be described as an affront to civilized society.
The plenary, which was presided by the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu saw the consolidation of the three bills. (NAN)