The takesFederal Government has taken bold steps to further decongest the Nigerian Correctional Service (NCS) formations as a measure to curb the spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19), Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami has said.
Malami said that President Muhamadu Buhari has
been mindful of the need to decongest prisons with particular regards
to the fact that around 79 per cent of the inmates of the NCD were awaiting trial.
Malami made this known in a statement by Dr Umar Jibrilu Gwandu, His Special
Assistant on Media and Public Relations on Friday.
Malami said President Muhammadu Buhari has constituted the
Presidential Committee for the decongestion of the
Correctional Centres across the country.
He said the Committee
which is coordinated by the Federal Ministry of Justice, has recorded great success.
Malami said the Committee comprised of the Minister of Interior, Attorney-General of the Federation, Chairman of the Presidential Committee on Decongestion of Correctional Service
Centres in view of the present health challenges.
He said the Committee recommended that Courts, Federal Ministry of Justice, the Correctional Service
formations, Governors, Attorney-Generals of States, among others
be encouraged to intensify actions to ensure that the
Correctional Service formations are not further congested taking into consideration the prevailing 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.
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 offences for those categories of inmates that could not afford paying of same in respect of offences
that attract fines arising from the convictions.
Part of the resolutions were also that Correctional Service should, as well, consider the possibility of moving inmates from congested Correctional Service Formations to
centres that are less congested and have space for accommodation of
inmates, among others.
By way of long term measures, the possibility of amending the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria by way of
considering an amendment that will move the
Correctional Service formations from Exclusive to Concurrent Legislative List
among others is equally considered.
The categories of inmates that will be considered most are those that
stayed in Correctional Service Centres for a period above ten years,
those that stayed as inmate for a longer period without any documentation relating to their detention, those that have the option
of fine, those that have been in the Centers on holding charges in
respect of offences that the Magistrate that sent them to Correctional
Service Formations do not have the jurisdiction to try the cases,
among others, but excluding those inmates serving jail terms for capital offences such as murder, kidnapping, armed robbery, rape and treason among others.
Edited By: Sadiya Hamza