A statistics released by Nigerian Bureau of Statistics (NBS) has revealed that there were more Muslims in Nigerian prisons, with over 71,402 been incarcerated within two years, compared to 59,940 Christians and 11,506 traditionalists, atheists and others recorded same period.
The NBS disclosed that no fewer than 68,686 inmates were currently occupying prisons across the country, with Lagos, Kano and Rivers states topping the table.
According to the agency’s report, Lagos prison capacity is 3,927 but currently accommodates 7,396 inmates, indicating that it is almost 100 per cent overcrowded, a trend that President Muhammadu Buhari has described as a national scandal.
From the data released by NBS on Thursday, Lagos is closely followed by Rivers and Kano states with 4,424 and 4,183 prison inmates population.
The statistics was contained in NBS Prison Statistics catalogued Prison Population by Total Detainees, Prison Capacity and Number of Un-sentenced Detainees by State and Year and Prison Inmate Population by Gender from 2011 to 2016. The study showed a rise in prison population from 65,030 in 2015 to 68,686 last year.
While Kano can conveniently accommodate just 2,116 prisoners, Rivers, according to the Bureau had one of the worst prison congestion ratio as it can take only 1,354, compared to the 4,183 prisoners it currently accommodates.
Bayelsa and Ekiti states, However, had the lowest numbers of prisoners, with 444 and 585 as at last year. Even then the two states also failed to buck the trend as their cells can accommodate only 200 and 400 prisoners.
The report released by the Bureau showed a rise in over-population of the prisons. In 2015, the prisons capacity was 49,965. But the prisoners were 65,033. In 2016, the capacity rose to 50,803, as the inmates also increased to 68,686.
More revealing is the gender skewness of the population: There are far more men in prisons than women. While male inmates last year were 67,329, the women were 1,357. Two year ago also, the gender ratio was similar, with 63,668 as men as against 1,357 women.
In terms of the beliefs of the inmates, there were more Muslims kept in jail between 2015 and 2016, more than Christians. A breakdown of the statistics revealed that 59,940 Christians were incarcerated in two year period, in contrast with 71,402 Muslims. The number of traditionalists, atheists and others was 11,506.
It would be recalled that President Muhammadu Buhari expressed concern over the state of the nation’s prisons, noting that it is a national scandal that many prisons are overcrowded by 90 per cent.
Buhari bear his mind when he hosted a delegation of the judicial arm of government led by the Chief Justice of the Federation, Justice Walter Onnoghen, at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
The president said: “We need a new approach to prison congestion. It is a national scandal that many prisons are overcrowded by 90 per cent.”
He stressed the need to put in place urgent new measures to speedily decongest the prisons across the country, stating that the call had become imperative not only in the interest of justice but to save the cost of prisons’ maintenance and boost the welfare of prisoners.