National Human Rights Commission, NHRC, said about 80 percent of Nigerians in various prisons were wrongfully incarcerated.
Executive Secretary of the commission, Professor Bem Angwe, stated this yesterday at a national dialogue organised by the commission in collaboration with the Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, to mark the International Day of Human Rights in Abuja.
Angwe stated that “The commission has continued to champion the course of reforms in prison administration in Nigeria. During this period, it visited all the prisons in this country and we took along members of the National Assembly.
“We discovered that about 80 percent of our people who are in prison today are still presumed by the court and the constitution as innocent. In this regard, the commission provided leadership for a review of the Prison Act that was promulgated as far back as 1972.”
He noted that through the help of the NBA, some of the victims were released and compensation was paid to them.
“Let me inform you that early this year, the Nigerian Bar Association collaborated with the National Human Rights Commission to release over 200 persons who had been detained for upward of 10-15 years without trial.
“The commission solicited the support of the NBA, they provided lawyers and we went to court, we secured the release of these victims and the court ordered the payment of compensation. We have succeeded in getting over N10 million as compensation to these Nigerians who were imprisoned for a very long time without trial.”
He also maintained that about 30,000 police officers have been trained by the NHRC towards ensuring that they are mindful of human rights while discharging their mandate.
The commission, according to him, has achieved several successes in its 20 years of existence.
Declaring the occasion open, President Muhammadu Buhari, who was represented by the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, said the NHRC has maintained its credibility within its 20 years of existence.
He lamented that Boko Haram has denied many Nigerians of their rights and pledged to support the commission in discharging its constitutional responsibility which is protecting the rights of the citizenry.