Mr David Pevigo, Controller, Benue Prisons, has decried the high number of “Awaiting Trial” inmates in prisons across the state.
Pevigo told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), in Makurdi on Monday, that the development was “very unhealthy” for a nation seeking to grow and develop.
According to him, out of a population of 1,193 across the three prisons in the state, only 314 have been convicted by the courts.
He said that the prison situation in the state was “a microcosm of what is happening across the country”.
The prison boss regretted that most of the productive labour force of the country was languishing in jails, adding that in Benue, the majority of those in prisons were between the ages of 18 and 35.
” The country’s workforce is wasting away and we need to sit up; the situation is very serious and needs urgent attention,” he said.
He said that the task of funding the prisons was enormous and called on individuals and non-governmental organizations to support the prisons authorities to execute the mandate of reforming the inmates.
The official said that the prisons had expanded their mandate from mere solitary confinement to corrective ánd training centres.
“We have shifted from being punitive to providing corrections to inmates; in fact, the prisons are now viewed as human refineries,; it is our responsibility to reform and prepare inmates for reintegration into society.”
Pevigo disclosed that the service had established two farm centres located at Jato-Aka and Iga Okpaya, as part of efforts to contribute to the nation’s food security programme.