About Us

WHO WE ARE

We are a group of people dedicated to reforming the prison system in Nigeria. We seek to achieve a humane prison system where in the words of the French philosopher Michel Foucault " a person is sent to prison as punishment and not for punishment." What this means is that it is the act of taking away the offender's liberty that is punishment and not that the offender is sent to prison for hard labour or kept in inhumane and degrading surroundings as punishment. It is to be remembered at all times that the prisoner notwithstanding the length of his or her term of imprisonment will one day be at liberty and reintroduced into society. It is therefore, fundamental and essential that they are treated humanely and fully rehabilitated before being reintroduced into society. Furthermore, it is critical to note that according to US State Department report on human rights for 2014:

"The prison system included 234 prisons - including 12 maximum-security prisons, 83 satellite prisons, 10 farm centers, two women’s prisons, eight zonal offices, and six directorates - all of which held prisoners and detainees. Detention of suspected militants did not always fall under the formal prison system structure. As of December [2014] the country’s prisons held 56,620 persons, of which 2 percent were women and 1 percent juveniles. The federal government operated all prisons but few pretrial jail facilities. Of the total prison population, 70 percent were pretrial detainees".

Evidently, according to this report, 70 percent of inmates in Nigerian Prisons are remand prisoners awaiting trial.

In 2006, the Nigerian Prisons Service reported that the average period of pre-trial detention in Nigeria was nearly four years, with many held for longer. The case of Sikuru Alade stands out as a glaring example of the lengthy remand periods in Nigeria where he was held in pretrial custody for more than nine years without being tried.

The Community Court of Justice of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) found that this violated the prohibition of arbitrary detention in the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights. Pursuant to the holding charge, on May 15, 2003, a magistrate ordered Alade to be remanded in custody. He was then held at the Kirikiri Maximum Security Prison in Apapa, Lagos, for more than nine years without being returned to court, or charged with a crime under any law before any court of competent jurisdiction. On September 18, 2012, following the judgment of the ECOWAS Court, he was released following a review by the Chief Judge of Lagos. This substantial remand period prevailed notwithstanding that Section 35 of Nigeria’s 1999 Constitution (as amended) specifically states that the police may not detain any suspect for longer than 48 hours without a court order. The initial detention of Alade from March 9 until May 15, 2003 was not authorised by any court of law, and was thus unlawful.

It is therefore, important that remand prisoners awaiting trial are treated humanely if they are to be considered innocent until proven guilty by a court of competent jurisdiction.

Prison conditions on our own assessment from visiting some prisoners can only be described as life threatening in terms of the likelihood of contracting terminal diseases.

We have also noticed that overcrowding is a significant issue that requires immediate attention of the authorities. We believe that the responsibility for overcrowding does not lay solely at the door of the prison system but with the court system and the legal profession. The court system is endemically pedestrian in its process.

WHAT WE DO

The main aim of the Trust is the promotion in Nigeria of a fair penal treatment and reform that serves to drastically reduce the prison population to a manageable number where there will be efficient use of the scarce resources available to the prison authorities.

Essentially, a drastic reduction in the prison population will ensure that the prison infrastructure is substantially improved so as to enable the authorities to improve the conditions that the inmates inhabit.

Our main aim is to establish a process where we champion "crime prevention” and promote “a reformatory and radically preventive treatment of offenders”.

Testa-dura is focused on the promotion of reformatory strategies in the prison system and most importantly the abolition of capital punishment in Nigeria.

Testa Dura campaigns and stands for reform of the criminal justice system in Nigeria, particularly, the remand policy of inmates awaiting trial who now form a majority of the prison population.

We aim to provide legal aid for young people in custody, conducts research and run a variety of campaigns on vital issues concerning treatment of prisoners.

Testa-Dura is completely independent from government and relies essentially on voluntary donations from members and supporters.

The best way to support our work is to become a member and add your voice to our movement for change of the prison system and improve conditions.

Donate To Testadura

Thank you for choosing to advance prisoners welfare with us. When you give to us, we are able to reach out to many other prisoners who need our help.