The Nigeria Prisons Service (NPS) would cooperate with the Lagos State Government on its adoption of plea bargain to reduce prison congestion, state Controller of Prisons, Tunde Ladipo, has said.
Ladipo told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Friday that the NPS was ready to partner with stakeholders in the legal sector on the initiative.
The controller spoke to NAN on the side line of a musical concert for inmates of Kirikiri Prisons in Lagos.
“The NPS is ever ready to partner with the government and stakeholders on the initiative as part of ongoing prison reforms.
” The plea bargain initiative by Lagos State Government aims to decongest the prisons in the state, “ Ladipo said.
He said that a team of lawyers from Lagos State Ministry of Justice had visited all the prisons in the state to sensitise inmates on the availability of the plea bargain option for inmates facing criminal trials.
Ladipo thanked the Lagos State Government for its commitment towards prison decongestion.
NAN reports that Lagos State Attorney General, Adeniji Kazeem, last month urged stakeholders in the legal sector to embrace ‘Plea and Sentence Bargain’ when presiding over litigations for prison decongestion.
Launching the Plea Bargain Manual in Lagos, Kazeem urged the judicial sector to embrace it to decongest prisons, considering the length of time awaiting trial inmates remained in prison custody due to lengthy court proceedings.
“My hope is that the formal presentation of this manual would trigger a change of attitude from our “don’t plead guilty” approach even in the face of overwhelming evidence against the defendant.
‘’This would go a long way in decongesting not only the courts but also decongesting the prisons which are already groaning under the burden of the population in their care.”
He lamented that though the plea bargain theory had been part of the criminal justice system for over a decade in Lagos State, yet it’s applicability has been poorly utilized by lawyer.