Delta State Deputy Governor, Prof. Amos Utuama (SAN) on Wednesday blamed the sordid state of the country’s prisons on the fact that they are under the exclusive legislative list and has called for a constitutional amendment that would bring prisons under the concurrent list.
Utuama, receiving the Presidential Advisory Committee on Prerogative of Mercy on courtesy call on Wednesday, noted that including prisons under the concurrent list would enable states to build and run prisons alongside the federal government.
This, he explained would bring healthy competition between the states and federal prisons and thereby improve the conditions of prisons across the country, adding that a society devoid of such competition would not make progress.
According to him, under the current arrangement, there was little state governments could do to improve prison facilities in their states since the matter does not fall under their brief.
“Part of the problem with our prisons is the federal nature of these prisons. Naturally, it is what you have that you take care of. Many things have been over centralised in this country for reasons I don’t know.
“It is my considered opinion that prisons ought to be on the concurrent lists, that way there would be a two stream of prison system in this country, since some offences are against the state and others against the federal government.”
Utuama urged the committee to prevail on Mr. President to put prisons in the concurrent legislative list so that both states and federal governments could build separate prisons to engender competition.
He informed that the administration of Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan has embarked on several measures under its human capital development agendum like payment of school certificate examinations fees, bursary and scholarships to remove the youths from crime.
The deputy governor also called for the introduction of a fast track system into criminal trials as a way of addressing the problem of awaiting trial inmates and prison congestion.
“Most of the awaiting trial could be federal offences; in that case the attorney general of the federation can give a fiat to the state attorney general to prosecute federal offences.”