Fact Sheet: Improving Pretrial Justice in Nigeria

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Nigeria’s prisons are overcrowded and pretrial detention is a severe problem. Over 70 percent of detainees are in pretrial custody and one-fifth of them have been held for over a year. Studies show that it is not uncommon for those accused of capital offences to spend over 10 years in pretrial detention.

This fact sheet outlines a project launched in 2005 by REPLACE, a Nigerian group focusing on legal enforcement and the protection of rights, which tested a duty solicitor model in the effort to deliver more effective pretrial justice.

According to an independent evaluation conducted in 2012, the most significant impact of the scheme has been its success in “fast tracking” cases towards bail hearings and reducing the time spent in police custody.

In the six participating states suspects now spend an average of 24 to 36 hours in police custody—a significant reduction compared with figures of up to six months in previous years and in line with constitutional provisions and international standards