Buhari Approves Decongestion of Nigeria Prisons Over COVID-19

President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the decongestion of Correctional Service formations due to coronavirus.

Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, stated that the President was concerned that around seventy percent of the inmates were awaiting trial.

Umar Jibrilu, Malami’s spokesman, in a statement Friday night, recalled that Buhari had constituted a Presidential Committee for the Decongestion of the Correctional Centers.

The Committee, coordinated by the Federal Ministry of Justice, has Malami as Chairman.

Members are Chief Justice of the FCT and the Comptroller General of the Nigeria Correctional Service.

The committee recommended that Courts, Federal Ministry of Justice, the Correctional Services formations Governors, Attorney-Generals of States, intensify actions to reduce inmates amid the health challenges associated with Covid-19.

“The Committee requested that Mr. President may wish to consider his powers of Prerogative of Mercy in speeding of decongestion, while Governors of States and their CJs be encouraged to visit correctional service formations for the purpose of decongestion”, it read.

“The Committee is of the view that the Federal Executive Council and the State Governments be encouraged to consider payment of fines in respect of minor offenses for those categories of inmates that could not afford to pay of same in respect of offenses that attract fines arising from the convictions.”

Part of the resolutions was also that Correctional Service should consider the possibility of moving inmates from congested Correctional Service Formations to centers that are less congested and have space for the accommodation of inmates, among others.

It also recommended the amendment of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to legalize moving the Correctional Service formations from Exclusive to Concurrent Legislative List.

The statement revealed that categories of inmates that will be considered are those that stayed in Correctional Service Centres for a period above ten years and those that stayed as an inmate for a longer period without any documentation relating to their detention.

“Others are those that have the option of fine, those that have been in the Centers on holding charges in respect of offenses that the Magistrate that sent them to Correctional Service Formations do not have the jurisdiction to try the cases, among others.”

However, those excluded are inmates serving jail terms for capital offenses such as murder, kidnapping, armed robbery, rape and treason among others.

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