HomeMETROEpidemic Fear Grows as Lagos Courts Reject Remand Suspects 

Epidemic Fear Grows as Lagos Courts Reject Remand Suspects 

The fear of epidemic outbreaks in police cells across Lagos State has heightened due to the Nigerian Prisons Service’s decision to stop accepting suspects from the police. This has resulted in an alarming increase in the number of detainees in various police cells, creating significant challenges for law enforcement agencies.

As a consequence of this development, the courts have recommended the use of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) to settle disputes instead of remanding suspects in prisons. However, this approach is typically intended for minor cases like land disputes or tenant-landlord disagreements and is not suitable for handling violent crimes such as murder, cultism, robbery, and felony.

Before this policy change, suspects accused of violent crimes were usually remanded in prisons while awaiting trial. The recent overcrowding of prisons in Lagos State, with a capacity designed for 4,500 inmates but currently housing more than 9,500, prompted the Nigerian Prisons Service to halt the intake of new suspects. The Comptroller of Prisons in Lagos expressed concerns about the risk of disease outbreaks or jailbreaks if more inmates were admitted.

Police investigators are now grappling with the challenge of accommodating an increasing number of suspects in their cells, many of whom are hardened criminals. Some police stations have resorted to transferring suspects to other locations within the state to alleviate the overcrowding and reduce the risk of disease transmission or potential escape attempts.

The situation is further complicated by the fact that the judiciary has not exercised its prerogative of mercy to release awaiting trial inmates whose statutory punishments do not exceed five years, and there are also inmates on death row whose execution orders have not been signed by the governors.

The Lagos State Police spokesman, David Hyndai, emphasized that the police would not cease arresting criminals and responding to distress calls, even though the courts are not currently accepting new suspects. He expressed hope that the courts would soon resume their normal operations.

The Public Relations Officer of the Nigerian Prisons Service, O. Oladokun, clarified that the restriction on accepting suspects from the police is a partial measure to address prison congestion. Efforts are underway by relevant authorities, including the Controller of the Correctional Center, the Attorney General, and the Chief Judge, to find alternative solutions to this pressing issue.



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