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AN EXAMINATION OF THE ROLE OF THE NIGERIAN POLICE IN THE APPLICATION OF THE HOLDING-CHARGE PROCEDURE IN RELATION TO PRE-TRIAL DETAINEES
The Nigerian Correctional Service is known to be grappling with a congestion of inmates in its facilities around the country. However, its major challenge is that more than two-thirds of these inmates are awaiting-trial detainees that ultimately stay in correctional centres for long periods of time without their status being determined. There is a growing body of research into ways to reduce the high incidence of prolonged detention of pre-trial inmates in the country. This article analyses the effect of the holding-charge procedure, whereby the Nigerian police arraign individuals before lower courts that do not have jurisdiction to try the alleged crimes, for the purpose of remanding individuals in prison custody pending the time of completion of an investigation into their matters by the police, which could take years. In the course of the study, the relevant literature on international and national human rights legal jurisprudence, including the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (2015), which has as one of its objectives the reduction in the prolonged periods of detention of pre-trial detainees, was analysed with a view to highlighting the implications of the holding-charge procedure for the criminal justice system of Nigeria. Consequently, it was observed that the practice of holding charge contributes largely to the high number of pretrial-detainees. There is a need for urgent reforms in the criminal justice system of Nigeria to reduce the arbitrary detention of individuals.
Key words: pre-trial detainees; Nigerian police force; prison congestion; holding charge; Administration of Criminal Justice Act