Rights group demands amnesty for inmates in correctional centres 

As controversy continues to trail Federal Government amnesty reprove which includes foreign schools training for repentant Boko Haram fighters, a human rights group known as Prison Inmate Development Initiative (PIDI-Nigeria) has demanded that the state and federal governments, in the spirit of equity and justice, to release all inmates serving various jail terms in all correctional centres across the country.

According to the group, if repentant members of the dreaded Boko Haram fighters that were captured in action by the security agencies can be released by the Nigerian Government in the name of been repentant members and given amnesty, then other repentant prisoners should also be set free.

While addressing a press conference in Bauchi, Executive Director of the group, Mbami Iliya Sabka said, “PIDI-Nigeria hereby, demand that both the state and federal governments release with immediate effect, all inmates serving in various correctional facilities (Prisons) who are now repented Ex-Offenders just like the Boko Haram Prisoners”.

PIDI-Nigeria has been, over the years, advocating for the rights of key population in Nigeria, most especially those that came in conflict with the criminal justice systems (CSJ).

The group while applauding President Muhammed Buhari for assenting to the Correctional Service Act last year as part of reforming the criminal justice system stated that the law has empowered the State Controller of Correctional Services in Section 1(3) and Section 10 of the act to rehabilitate and reform offenders for reintegration and not the Nigerian Army.

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He also recalled that the Nigerian Army (NA) recently claimed to have negotiated, rehabilitated, reformed and reintegrated alleged Boko Haram terrorists who are prisoners to move freely into the society.

“Mr President, we know that you are fully aware that ‘terrorism’ is a crime against humanity and human rights, which threatens and endangers the peace and the security of mankind”. The group stressed.

The executive director noted that PIDI-Nigeria is not against or opposing the released of ex-Boko Haram fighters but pointed out that, “as an organization, we had recently succeeded in securing the release of one alleged Boko haram “inmate” through a bail application in the federal high Court of Nigeria, judicial division in Bauchi”.

The group which drew the attention of President Muhammadu Buhari on the non-implementation of the Correctional Service Act 2019 as asserted by him, said inmates are still warehoused more than the correctional facilities.

According to the rights group, “the law, in section 12(8) has already empowered the controller of correctional service to reject additional inmates above the facility under their watch”.

“Investigation showed that Nigerian government discriminates against other class of victims that came in conflict with the law and gave more preferential and juicy treatment only to terrorist “Boko Haram” fighters”. The rights group alleged.

The group said further that, “In Nigeria, the socio-political context is very hostile and harsh to; LGBTQI, Kidnappers, armed robbers, murderers and other petty prisoners/offenders who are faced with unique legal and social challenges not experienced by non-terrorist offenders by the Nigeria government”.

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“However; the 1999 constitution section 15. (1) The motto of the Federal Republic of Nigeria shall be Unity and Faith, Peace and Progress. (2) Accordingly, national integration shall be actively encouraged, whilst discrimination on the grounds of place of origin, sex, religion, status, ethnic or linguistic association or ties shall be prohibited”, Sabka explained.

PIDI-Nigeria averred that “from the provisions of the laws in Nigeria, no crime that is committed by those class of prisoners/offenders that the “Boko Haram” fighters have not committed”.

According to the group, “Boko haram kill, rob, rape, mutilate, maim, Sodomized, Steal and even form a regional government in Nigeria”.

The group decried that, even as the war between the Nigerian government and the terrorists Boko haram has not ended, many of its fighters have been released from custody by the Nigerian Military and with a proposed bill for the creation of an agency for them that is now before the National assemble.

The human rights group called on the government to equally create an agency that will rehabilitate LGBTQI, Kidnappers, Arm Robbers, Murderers and other petty ex-prisoners/offenders for the interest of justice.

“This class of offenders should also be considered without any form of discrimination in accordance with the 1999 constitution of the federal republic of Nigeria as amended or PIDI-Nigeria will seek for redress to this class of key population in court”. Sabka vowed.

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