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COVID-19: Decongest prisons now – Buhari tells governors

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COVID-19: Decongest prisons now - Buhari tells governors

Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, SAN has written to Governors to convey President Muhamamdu Buhari’s approval for decongestion of correctional facilities.

The letter, which followed Buhari’s pardon, requested urgent and speedy decongestion in view of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Malami, in a statement on Friday by his spokesman, Umar Gwandu, complained that from available records, the prison inmate population in Nigeria stands at 74,127 out of which 52,226 inmates are awaiting trial persons (ATPs).

Malami said the development poses a potent threat to the health of the inmates and the public in general in view of the present circumstances, hence the need for urgent steps to bring the situation under control.

“In light of the above, Mr. President requests all Executive Governors to request their State Chief Judges to embark on visits to all correctional/custodial centres within their respective States to identify and release deserving inmates where that has not been done already,” the letter reads in part.

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The Attorney-General explained that at the requested visit, the Chief Judges should consider conditional or unconditional release of ATPs who have spent 6 years and those who have no confirmed criminal cases against them.

The AGF listed others to be considered as the aged, those with terminal illness, low risk offenders, those with no sufficient legal basis to remain in custody, convicts of minor offences with or without option of fines and those who have less than 3 years term left to serve having served a substantial term of their jail term for offences that attract 5 years and above.

Malami also demanded that “payment of fines be made in favour of inmates convicted of lesser offences with the option of fine but are in custody because of their inability to pay such fines”.

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