Over 250 inmates in the Ikoyi and Kirikiri Medium Correctional Centres have so far taken advantage of the 2days Plea Bargain and Restorative Justice Sensitization Program recently organized by the Lagos State Ministry of Justice.
The Director, Directorate of Public Prosecutions, Dr. Babajide Martins, made the disclosure at the Kirikiri Medium and Maximum Custodial Centres in Lagos where he led officials of the ministry to a Plea Bargain and Restorative Justice Sensitization Session for Awaiting Trial Inmates.
Dr. Martins 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 Director explained that the Plea 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.
Dr. Martins 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.
The Coordinator Restorative Justice Centre, Mrs. Adenike Oluwafemi noted that the Restorative Justice and 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.
“Restorative Justice is an approach to justice that aims to get offenders to take responsibility for their actions, to understand the harm they have caused, to give them an opportunity to redeem themselves, and to discourage them from causing further harm. For victims, its goal is to give them an active role in the process and to reduce feelings of anxiety and powerlessness”, she said.
Oluwafemi stressed that the goals of the Lagos State Restorative Justice Programme include reduction of recidivism, increasing victim satisfaction, strengthening communities, decongestion of correctional Centres, reducing incarceration, and increasing public confidence in the justice system.
The Deputy Controller of Corrections, Kirikiri Medium Custodial Centre, DCC Ogbuji C. Emeka was on hand to receive the entourage from Lagos State Ministry of Justice .
Dr. Martins urged the inmates who have been awaiting trial for a long time to consider the Plea Bargain or Restorative Justice option.