COVID-19: Over 7000 inmates released in FG’s prison decongestion efforts

As part of measures to decongest the Custodial Centres nationwide in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and the dangers posed to the centres, the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN) said over 7000 inmates have so far been released.

Malami who disclosed this in Abuja on Thursday while addressing the National Summit on Correctional Reforms in Nigeria said the inmates were released by the Presidential Committee on Correctional Service Reform and Decongestion in collaboration with the Presidential Advisory Committee on Prerogative of Mercy, Federal Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Interior, State Executives and other relevant stakeholders.

Malami said: “It is, however, noteworthy that the releases were carried out in line with specific guidelines approved by Mr President in view of national security and public interest.

“In a recent event with the State Heads of Courts and Attorneys-General, I had mentioned that in order to put in place enduring measures for effective management of Correctional Centres for the reformation, rehabilitation and reintegration of offenders back to the society, the decentralization of Correctional Service in the Country has been proposed.”

This, he noted will allow states to effectively participate through the setting up of their own Correctional Centres to manage offenders who commit state offences while the Federal Government will continue to manage offenders who commit federal offences. These are all measures expected to address the problem of congestion in the Correctional Centres as witnessed presently.

“We have developed an Implementation Strategy for the Nigerian Correctional Service Act, 2019. This is an addition to the implementation of an ICT enabled National Criminal Database to promote effective information management in criminal justice administration, decongestion of Correctional Centres and non-custodial measures,” he added.

Another milestone in the national strategy towards the decongestion and reformation of Correctional Centres nationwide, the minister said is the ongoing collaboration between the Federal Ministry of Justice, relevant justice stakeholders and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) with focus on implementing amnesty and decongestion for juveniles deprived of their liberty during the COVID-19 Pandemic and beyond.

He commended the Minister of Interior and the Controller-General of the Nigerian Correctional Service for driving Federal Government efforts at addressing inadequacies of correctional facilities, through the ongoing construction of 3000 capacity maximum security custodial centres in Karshi, Abuja and in Janguza, Kano State as well as deploying other essential cogent measures.

Malami said the National Summit is the next phase of the strategic efforts for the Nigerian Correctional Service Reform and decongestion of Nigerian Correctional Centres.

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