NO fewer than 530 inmates in various correctional centres in Lagos State have so far benefited from the Plea Bargain protocol since its introduction in the State in 2017.
The State Commissioner for Justice and Attorney- General, Moyosore Onigbanjo SAN, disclosed this at the Kirikiri Maximum Custodial Centre in Lagos where he led officials of the ministry to a Plea & Sentence Bargain sensitisation session for Awaiting Trial Inmates.
Onigbanjo said the process which is aimed at decongesting correctional facilities in Lagos State is in line with Governor Babajide Sanwo-olu’s reform initiative in the administration of criminal justice in the State.
The Attorney General
explained that the Plea & Sentence Bargain process which is in collaboration with the Lagos State Command of the National Correctional Centre, the State Judiciary and the Lagos State Police Command will assist in efforts geared towards
reducing the population of inmates awaiting trials in Correctional facilities in the State.
He noted that the Plea Bargain option is aimed at Prison decongestion and not a ploy to compel inmates to plead guilty to lesser Charges.
Onigbanjo said the severity of the offence, length
of sentences and acceptance or rejection of the offers by the Judge are major determinants in a Plea Bargain process.
He stated that 27 inmates in the Kirikiri Correctional Centre – 16 male and 11 females are beneficiaries of Thursday’s Plea Bargain session that will be replicated at the Ikoyi and Badagary Correctional Centres in Lagos State.
The Solicitor-General and Permanent Secretary, Lagos State Ministry of Justice, Ms. Titilayo Shitta-Bey earlier in her welcome address, explained that the Plea Bargain process is in compliance with the Lagos State Justice Law 2015 and a testament to the State Government’s commitment to a robust Administration of Criminal Justice in the State.
“We are here to correct the impression, that Plea Bargain is for the rich alone.
It is for everyone whether they are literate or illiterate, rich or poor,” Shitta-Bey said.
The Controller of Lagos State Command, Nigeria Correctional Centre, Adewale Adebisi said, inmates congestion is the major challenge in all Correctional facilities in the state. According to him; the Centres are struggling to cope with the congestion caused by 6,000 inmates standing trials.
He urged inmates who have been standing trial for a long time to consider the Plea Bargain option.