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OBI WANTS AWKA, ONITSHA PRISONS RELOCATED

By NBF NEWS
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Anambra State, Peter Obi
Governor of Anambra State, Peter Obi, has urged the Federal Government to, as a matter of urgency, consider the relocation of the prison yards in Awka, the state capital and Onitsha to more suitable places, to facilitate their expansion.

Obi, who was at the Ministry of Interior in Abuja on Tuesday, to congratulate the Minister, Capt. Emmanuel Iheanacho, on his appointment and to bring to his attention some of the issues with regards to prisons and internal security in the state, expressed dissatisfaction with the standard of the prisons in those cities, as well as their present state of congestion.

He disclosed that he had earlier, behind a closed door, discussed extensively with the minister on the internal security of the state and the state's position on the continuous existence of the prison yards in Awka and Onitsha.

The governor, who said that was not the first time he was canvassing the issue before the Federal Government, stressed that the need to relocate the prisons had become quite obvious in view of their status in those cities and the desire for expansion to make tthem more conducive for inmates.

He indicated the intention of the state to offer its own assistance within the limit of resources available to it, including the possible allocation of plots of land to facilitate the relocation.

Responding, the minister admitted that the prison situation in those cities were such that demanded urgent attention and reforms to meet up with the set standards for modern prisons.

He revealed that the Onitsha prison, which was built by colonial masters in 1906 with a capacity for about 326 inmates had 863 inmates.

He further disclosed that the Awka prison, which was built in 1909 for about 238 prisoners had about 469 inmates, quite unbefitting for a state capital.

Admitting further that the state of prisons in the state was not encouraging, Iheanacho also disclosed that government was sourcing resources to complete the medium security prison project that had been under construction in Nnewi since 20 years ago.

He expressed the fears that the Aguata prison that was originally built for 96 inmates when commissioned, might house over 200 prisoners, stressing that it was government's desire to ensure the decongestion of prisons nationwide within the life of this administration, the minister said they would require the help of the governors and states' chief judges to commit the sentences of convicted persons and also, order the release of certain awaiting trial inmates as well as insist that people should not be sent to jail when they could take an option of fine and go away.