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Centre facilitates trial of 6000 cases to decongest prisons



The Public and Private Development Centre (PPDC) says it facilitates speedy trial of about 6,000 Court cases to decongest correctional centres in five states of the country.

The Senior Programme Manager, PPDC, Mr Kenechukwu Agwu, disclosed this in an interview with our correspondent on Monday in Abuja.

Agwu said since 2022, the Reforming Pre-trial Detention in Nigeria Project (RPDN), one of the Centre’s initiatives had targeted providing legal representation to about 1,750 detainees every year across five states.

The five states, according to him were Adamawa, Plateau, Nasarawa state, Kaduna state and the Federal Capital Territory.

“Our Target is not just in bringing them out from the detention centres but that they should have access to free legal representation.

“For instance, we are also doing what we call the police duty solicitor’s scheme.

“This scheme features lawyers, who will be present at police stations to ensure that, in line with the Administration of Criminal Justice System (ACJS), nobody is interviewed or interrogated without a lawyer being present.

“We are not just stopping at a lawyer being present. For instance, if the matter is about to go to court and persons involved don’t have lawyers, we will now provide lawyers, who will provide these services to them at no cost to the detainees,” he explained.

On PPDC engagement with Administration of Criminal Justice Monitoring committees (ACJMCs), Agwu said that through the Centre’s projects initiatives, Adamawa ACJMC was revived after over two years.

“It is worthy to point out that in the last six months, we started the phase two of the Reforming Pre-trial Detention in Nigeria Project and we have experienced a very huge stakeholders’ buying-in of what we are doing.

“For instance, in Adamawa in the last two to three years, the Administration of Criminal Justice Monitoring Committee for some reasons have not been able to sit.

“But last week, our Adamawa state team helped to ensure the committee which is statutorily established to monitor the implementation of the ACJ at the state levels was able to have its quarterly meeting for the first time”, he said.

He said the Centre also deployed speech-to-text devices to courts in three states – Plateau, Nasarawa, Kaduna – to enhance court administration and case management in the judicial sector.

He also said that the Centre intended to extend its project to Lagos State once it secured an office in the state.

According to him, PPDC digitized the record system, moved out all the physical records, so the chief judge does not need to be present in the state before a case can be assigned to a judge.

“Having the records of all the cases in digitized forms, all he needs to do is to assign the cases from his laptop or his cellphone”, he explained.

Agwu further said that the Centre had also gone ahead to network these systems to correction facilities.

He explained that with the devices, the detainee now used the system in the corrections to appear online in court.

He added that the issue around security and logistics for bringing the detainees to court had also been drastically reduced.

He further noted that this device had in a great measure reduced the burden on the judges.

Agwu, therefore, appreciated PPDC donors for the funding and support.

He disclosed that two of the Centre’s projects were funded by U.S government through its Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement.

Jacinta Nwachukwu

NEWSVERGE, published by The Verge Communications is an online community of international news portal and social advocates dedicated to bringing you commentaries, features, news reports from a Nigerian-African perspective. A unique organization, founded in the spirit of Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, comprising of ordinary people with an overriding commitment to seeking the truth and publishing it without fear or favour. The Verge Communications is fully registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as a corporate organization.



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