Stakeholders at a summit in Enugu, weekend, called for the decriminalization of all petty offences with a view to decongesting Nigeria prisons.
The opinion was formed as they all agreed that petty offences were mostly targeted at the poor and downtrodden in the society.
All the participants at the Forum organized by the Prisoners’ Rehabilitation and Welfare Action, (PRAWA), in Enugu said efforts must be made to amend all relevant criminal justice statutes to expunge decriminalize and declassify petty offences.
Speaking while declaring the event open, the Comptroller of the Enugu State Prisons, Mr. Ndubuisi Ogbodo said available statistics at the Prisons Services “shows that we have a lot of congestion.”
He, however, said it was difficult for the Service to classify all the inmates, adding that “the project would held in addressing age-long issues of prison congestion.
Ogbodo stated that “some petty offences that need community services should be treated as such. If sent to prison, such person goes on to learn harder crimes from some other inmates.
Speaking on a similar note, the Officer in charge of legal department, Enugu State Police Command, Barr. Nwachukwu Pascal said the issue of decriminalizing petty offences called for collaborative efforts.
He said the Enugu State Justice Reform Team was already working assiduously to meet new expectations in the area of criminal justice administration.
In her presentation, the Deputy Director of PRAWA, Barr. Ogechi Ogu, harmed on the removal of punitive measures from the prisons services.
She identified some of the petty offences to include wandering, loitering, prostitution, vagabond, failure to pay debt, among others.
Ogu said these category offences should ordinarily attract warning or community services as punishment and not remand.
Earlier in her remarks, PRAWA director, Mrs. Uju Agomoh said Enugu had always been reform-mindedness and expressed the hope that the present intervention would make desired impact.