The Controller of Corrections Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Command, Abdul-Rahman Maiyaki, has said virtual sitting of courts would decongest correctional facilities in the FCT.
He also appealed to the Chief Judge of FCT to approve for Magistrates to come into correctional facilities in the FCT to have trials.
Maiyaki stated this Tuesday, during a meeting with the liaison between FCT High Courts and Correctional Service , Justice U. P Kekemeke in Abuja.
He said the slow pace of trials of inmates as a result of covid-19 pandemic and incessant strikes by the Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN) is causing displeasure and tensions among inmates.
He said, “The Criminal Justice Committee of the FCT interacted with the inmates about long standing pandemic and lingering strike of JUSUN. We observe that some inmates are displeased because they are detained without trial. And if their displeasure is not attended to, it could lead to tension and even jail break.
“We want your lordship to help us to commence virtual trial in our facilities, and as well approve for Magistrates to be coming to our facilities to sit so that we will be able to address the issues of lingering strikes. Because it is said that Justice delayed is Justice denied. “
According to him, these would go a long way in decongesting correctional facilities in the FCT.
He added that even though JUSUN strike has been called off, it is important to be proactive by having a concrete arrangement in place due to future reoccurrence.
He assured Judges and Magistrates that would come for sitting at correctional facilities of their safety.
“I want to assure you that judges coming into our facilities for trials will be safe. Which ever facility that the judge will be coming, either suleja or Kuje, all inmates have been informed that they will not be allowed outside during trials. All movements of inmates within the facility will be restricted until after the sitting of the Court. They have been informed and they have accepted.
“Secondly, within the facilities we have gotten secured places for the judges to sit. The entrance and surrounding of those places will be mounted by armed guards. The only people that would be seen as far as inmates are concerned are those going for trials. These are parts of the security measures we have put in place.
Speaking further, also appealed for the setting up of virtual court in suleja.
“Kuje has a virtual court room built by federal ministry of Justice while Suleja does not have. During the last virtual trial we had in suleja, we got our ICT people to mount laptops,” he said.
On his part, Justice Kekemeke said the FCT High Court practice direction accommodates virtual trials.
“I want to inform you that the fct high court practice direction allows for virtual sitting. It is part of the practice direction that that was issued by the former Chief Judge of FCT before he left. So virtual sitting is part and parcel of the rules of this court.
“I want to also inform you that during the pandemic some judges delivered judgements through zoom. I delivered one judgement in a criminal matter through zoom. All the lawyers connected. In fact, the defendant was also in attendance, only that we asked to stand up wherever he was while the judgement was being delivered. So it is part of our rules.”
He also assured that he would ensure that Magistrates visit correctional fascilities at least once in month to facilitate decongestion of correctional facilities.