Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home

Access to Prison Law Libraries as a Precursor to Effective Administration of Justice in Nigeria: Lessons from the United States of America

  • Oludayo John Bamgbose

Extract

A decade after the inauguration of the national working group on the reform of criminal justice administration in Nigeria by the then Attorney General of the Federation, Chief Akin Olujinmi, SAN, Nigeria was presented with a newly signed law—Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA), which was a direct response to the growing call for reforms that would address the plethora of problems confronting the administration of the criminal justice system in Nigeria. The 495-section law harmonized the existing two principal laws: the Criminal Procedure Act (CPA) and the Criminal Procedure Code (CPC), which hitherto governed the administration of criminal justice system across all Federal-owned Courts in Nigeria and the Courts within the Federal Capital Territory. Both CPA and CPC operated for many decades in Nigeria, but had many challenges, hence the urgency for the newcomer— ACJA.

  • View HTML
    • Send article to Kindle

      To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure no-reply@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

      Note you can select to send to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

      Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

      Access to Prison Law Libraries as a Precursor to Effective Administration of Justice in Nigeria: Lessons from the United States of America
      Available formats
      ×

      Send article to Dropbox

      To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

      Access to Prison Law Libraries as a Precursor to Effective Administration of Justice in Nigeria: Lessons from the United States of America
      Available formats
      ×

      Send article to Google Drive

      To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

      Access to Prison Law Libraries as a Precursor to Effective Administration of Justice in Nigeria: Lessons from the United States of America
      Available formats
      ×

Copyright

Footnotes

Hide All
1

© John Oludayo Bamgbose, 2018. The author is Certified Librarian of Nigeria (CLN), a Barrister and Solicitor, Supreme Court of Nigeria and Law Librarian, Ajayi Crowther University, Oyo, Nigeria. He was awarded the Bitner Research Fellowship for 2017 Fall, during which time this research was initiated. The author is grateful to the authorities of Cornell Law Library, Cornell University, Ithaca, United States for awarding him the Bitner Research Fellowship, which enabled him to undertake this study while at Cornell. The Law Library also facilitated appointments with relevant individuals and organizations useful for this study.

Footnotes

References

Hide All

2 Iweguw, Benson (2017) The revolution in Nigerian prisons, THIS DAY newspaper. September 8, 2017. Retrieved November 24, 2017 from https://www.thisdaylive.com/index.php/2017/09/08/the-revolution-in-nigeria-prisons/.

3 Akinseye-George, Y. (2015) Innovative provisions of Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015, The Nations Newspaper, June 9, 2015 from http://thenationonlineng.net/innovative-provisions-of-administration-of-criminal-justice-act-2015/.

4 These problems were identified by Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) as well as interest groups like the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), and International Organizations including the United Nations (UN) and Amnesty International (AI), amongst other organizations that all advocated for an improved system that would truly dispense justice.

5 Akinseye-George, Y. (2015) Innovative provisions of Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015, The Nations Newspaper, retrieved June 9, 2015 from http://thenationonlineng.net/innovative-provisions-of-administration-of-criminal-justice-act-2015/.

6 Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015.

7 Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015.

8 Ibid.

9 Ibid Akinseye-George, Y. (2015).

10 Onyekwere, J. and Dunia, G. (2015) Administration of Criminal Justice Act and Burden of Implementation, GUARDIAN newspaper, Retrieved June 9, 2015 from http://www.ngrguardiannews.com/2015/07/administration-of-criminal-justice-act-and-burden-of-implementation/.

11 Out of the thirty-six states in Nigeria, only three states of Lagos, Anambra, and Ekiti have their state equivalent of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act.

12 Nigeria operates a federal system of government,which vests the empowers to legislate on State Courts on the State Houses of Assemblies.

13 This is one of the reasons prison breaks occur. It simply shows that the prison in need of reform has actually turned into a place where evil ideas are nurtured.

14 Obioha, E. E. (2011). “Challenges and reforms in the Nigerian Prisons System.” Journal of Social Science, 27(2), 95109.

15 Depending on the gravity of the offense perceived to have been committed.

16 For certain categories of offense such as the offenses that could attract capital punishment, suspects undergoing trials are kept in prison pending the case being brought before the court. This is born out of the belief that a person so accused might indeed be guilty of the offense and if so, such a person may pose a greater risk to society if allowed to go and move freely.

17 Adeagbo, O. et al. (2016) “Re-integration of prison inmates in Nigeria: advocating for library support,” International Information and Library Review, vol., 48, no. 3: 169–73.

18 Fapohunda, O. (2016) “Nigerian Prison Services: Practical Proposals For Reform,” THIS DAY, July 19, 2016.

https://www.thisdaylive.com/index.php/2016/07/19/nigerian-prisons-services-practical-proposals-for-reform/.

19 Porthacourt Prisons, with a capacity of 804, accommodate more than 3,593 inmates; the Agodi Prisons, with a capacity of 294, now house over 1,000 inmates; Owerri Prisons, which should accommodate a maximum of 548, have over 2,144 inmates. The Ikoyi Prisons, with a capacity of 800, hold over 2,239 inmates. See Fapounda, W. (2017), 2017 Administration of Justice Reform Options for Buhari Government. THIS DAY newspaper, January 3, 2017. https://www.thisdaylive.com/index.php/2017/01/03/2017-administration-of-justice-reform-policy-options-for-buhari-government/.

20 Akinseye-George (2015), ibid.

21 Governors and some qualified judicial officers often in exercise their constitutional power and grant pardon to deserving inmates. However, there is a limit to the number of inmates who can be released under this arrangement because of the stringent conditions that have to be met. Regrettably, some Nigerians have attributed the over-crowded nature of the prisons to non-execution of inmates, thereby calling that Nigeria should return to the era of execution. Such a call is not in keeping with the global call against the abolition of the death penalty and we strongly condemn such a proposition.

22 Where over 70 percent of inmates are persons awaiting trial, this then goes against the argument that prisons are over-crowded as a result of the refusal of the government to execute inmates. There is no amount of amnesty that can be given that will significantly affect the over-crowded nature of the prisons. The government would do better to explore ways in which there can be speedy administration of justice.

23 Besides isolation, inmates are perhaps the most abused in Nigeria. For example, they are not eligible to vote in an election.

24 The prison libraries hold papers that will be provided in court so that inmates who face similar charges can prepare his/her own documents for self-defense.

25 There is a story in the Bible where two men, named Paul and Silas, incarcerated by the King, were full of praises to God and in an unexplainable manner, they were released through the supernatural power of God.

26 Lehmann, V. & Locke, J. (2005) Guidelines for library services to prisoners, 3rd ed., International Federation of Library Associations IFLA professional reports No. 92.

27 Mandela's story is not only inspiring, but also preaches forgiveness for those who felt they needed to revenge wrongful conviction, not fearing the likely consequences of such retaliation.

28 Nelson Mandela's jail term buttresses this claim. In Nigeria also, this is true of many of the activities of those such as the late Gani Fawehinmi, Fella Anikulapo Kiti, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, and many others who have been jailed, in particular during the military dictatorship.

29 Such behaviors include kleptomania, abusive relationships, and so on.

30 Many of inmates are discriminated against when released from prison such that life after prison becomes intolerable.

31 Kroft, S. (2017) “Meet a convicted felon who became a became a Georgetown law professor.” Retrieved October 15, 2017 from https://www.cbsnews.com/news/meet-a-convicted-felon-who-became-a-georgetown-law-professor/.

32 Falayi, K. (2015) “Inspiring tales of life prisoners piling up degrees.” Punch. August 29, 2015. Retrieved from http://punchng.com/%C2%ACinspiring-tales-of-life-prisoners-piling-up-degrees/.

33 Eze, J. (2014) “Information needs of prisoners in Southeast Nigerian prisons,” Sage, vol. 32 no 3: 243–53.

34 Okwor, R. N. et al. ( 2010) “Library services to prisoners in south east geopolitical zones in Nigeria,” Samaru Journal of Information Studies, vol. 7, no.1 ( 2010); vol.64, no. 4.

35 Fapohunda, O. (2016), ibid.

36 Rule 40 United Nations Standard Minimal Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (1955).

37 The Charter for the Readers (1994) published by UNESCO was developed by the International Book Committee and the International Publishers Associations.

38 Education is one of the socio-economic rights that Nigerians are entitled to. However, at the moment, socio-economic rights are seen as non-justiciable rights.

39 Although socio-economic rights on the face of it are non-justiciable, the Courts have held onto the spirit of judicial activism, in the form of Abacha V. Fawehinmi, who ensured that socio-economic rights contained in the African Charter Rights are enforceable in Nigeria.

40 A visit to Nigerian prisons will show clearly that there are scarce books and other instructional materials for the inmates to read even though the government makes provision for reading chairs and carrels in some prisons. Meanwhile, the furniture so provided may not serve the intended purpose since inmates do not ordinarily have permission to bring-in reading materials into the prison.

41 Ibid, Omagbemi.

42 Omagbemi, C. O. & Odunewu, A. (2015) “An Appraisal of Library Services to Prison Inmates in Nigeria,” Samaru Journal of Information Studies, vol. 7, no. 2 (2007).

43 The rule was adopted by the First United Nations Congress on the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders, held at Geneva in 1955, and approved by the Economic. and Social Council through its resolutions 663 C (XXIV) of July 31, 1957 and 2076 (LXII) in 1977.

44 The 11 percent statistics may not be a true reflection of how the prison library is used because they are so poorly equipped to provide effective services to inmates.

45 Sambo, A., Usman, S. & Rabiu, N. (2017) “Prisoner and their information needs: Prison libraries overview,” Library Philosophy and Practice (e-journal), 1467.

46 Alabere, R. (2016) “The Commissioning of Prison Libraries in Lagos.” Zaccheus Onumba Dibiaezue Memorial Libraries, https://zodml.org/blog/commissioning-prison-libraries-lagos#.Wj_Ww1XwbIU.

47 Egenuka, E. (2017) ZODML Commissions Prison Libraries in Nnewi and Ekwulobia, Zaccheus Onumba Dibiaezue Memorial Libraries. https://zodml.org/blog/zodml-commissions-prison-libraries-nnewi-and-ekwulobia#.Wj_gzlXwbIU.

48 Nigeria's adoption of the American-styled Presidential system of government began in 1979 when Alhaji Shehu Shagari won the Presidential election. Although truncated through the military junta, which led to the emergence of General Muhammadu Behari, who incidentally is Nigeria's current democratically elected President.

49 Wagner, P. & Sawyer, W. (2018), “Mass Incarceration: The Whole Pie 2018,” Prison Policy Initiative. Retrieved from https://www.prisonpolicy.org/reports/pie2018.html, July 8, 2018.

50 Shea, A. (2017) “Banning black liberation: Michigan prisoners are barred from reading Frantz Fanon,” MOCKROCK, https://www.muckrock.com/news/archives/2017/aug/04/michigan-doc-fanon/.

51 For example, a book that deals on the exploits of terrorist organizations like the Taliban or Al-Qaida should not be kept in the prison library as this could end up recruiting individuals who could join terrorist organizations upon release from prison.

52 There have been accounts of some successful armed robbers in Nigeria who terrorized people. An autobiography/biography of such persons should not be kept in the prison library. However, an account of a repented armed robber like Pastor Kayode Williams, which underplayed armed robbery, but rather beamed light on the futility of such adventure could be permitted to the extent that the writing did not touch sensitive areas such as the strategy of operations and the possibility of overpowering law enforcement agents.

53 This must be guarded against because it has been a reoccurring issue in Nigerian prisons owning partly to their overcrowded nature. Fapounda (2016 and 2017), ibid.

54 This is considered to be a dangerous act because such interaction could precipitate the onslaught of greater crime.

55 Rubin, R. J. (1973) “U.S. prison library services and their theoretical bases.” Occasional Papers, No. 110.

56 Rubin, ibid.

57 340 US 817 (1977).

58 In this case, the respondents were current inmates at the correctional facilities of the North Carolina Department of Correction. In their three hitherto separate applications, now consolidated before the District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina, the respondents averred that they were denied access to courts in grave violation of their rights as enshrined in the 14th Amendment by the State's inability to provide access to legal research facilities. While granting the respondents prayers, the Court noted that the sole prison library was inadequate, neither was there any other facility to provide legal assistance to inmates.

59 518 US 343 (1996).

60 The Nigerian lawsuit now recognizes public interest litigations.

61 Laws of States are necessary because a person can be convicted by a State law, and yet incarcerated in another State prison. This is partly because the Nigerian prison system is managed by the Federal Government of Nigeria.

62 General reports to specific law reports such as criminal law reports, human rights law reports, and so on.

63 Law reports are essential because inmates do not have access to the Internet. Also, the report is the main way in which Court business can be accessed.

64 Lehmann, V. & Locke, J. (2005) ibid.

65 Ibid.

66 Other areas requiring attention include: provisions for the qualification of persons to man prison libraries, funding for the library, and other critical functions.

1 © John Oludayo Bamgbose, 2018. The author is Certified Librarian of Nigeria (CLN), a Barrister and Solicitor, Supreme Court of Nigeria and Law Librarian, Ajayi Crowther University, Oyo, Nigeria. He was awarded the Bitner Research Fellowship for 2017 Fall, during which time this research was initiated. The author is grateful to the authorities of Cornell Law Library, Cornell University, Ithaca, United States for awarding him the Bitner Research Fellowship, which enabled him to undertake this study while at Cornell. The Law Library also facilitated appointments with relevant individuals and organizations useful for this study.

Metrics

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed