Stakeholders have called on President Muhammadu Buhari to request the State Governors to grant amnesty to deserving inmates, as a measure to ensure that the Coronavirus disease, otherwise known as COVID-19 does not find its way into any of the Centres.
The stakeholders made the call during an emergency meeting convoked by the Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola, in Abuja with a view to finding a lasting solution to the congestion in Nigerian prisons, especially during Coronavirus pandemic.
Mr Aregbesola also stated that the meeting was conveyed in response to the outcome of the Presidential Task Force meeting on COVID-19, noting that the safety of inmates, staff of the Nigeria Correctional Service and all Nigerians was of great concern to Government.
According to the minister, the nation is in an extraordinary situation which requires all hands to be on deck in order to ensure that the pandemic does not go into any of the Custodian Centres.
Mr Aregbesola, therefore, called on the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, States Chief Judges, the Governors and other stakeholders in the Justice Sector to immediately identify measures to be taken for quick decongestion of the custodial centres across the country.
According to him, the number of those in the Custodial Centres across the country calls for quick response particularly in the present situation, as they are more vulnerable to infection.
He added that the situation is further compounded by the huge number of Awaiting Trial Persons, ATPs, which accounts for over 70% of the national inmates’ population in the nation’s holding facilities.
Earlier in his remarks, the Controller General of Corrections, Ja’afaru Ahmed said that the country currently has a total of 244 Custodial centres, 139 of which are main Custodial Centres and 85 as Satellite Centres with a total of 74,127 inmates, among which 1,450 are female, 21, 901 Convicted and 52,226 Awaiting Trial.
The Controller General added that overcrowded facilities posed a serious threat to the inmates at this time of the outbreak of COVID-19 Pandemic, if adequate steps are not taken to address the situation.
Also in his remarks, the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami called for proper profiling of all inmates in the various facilities across the country with a view to having a joint arrangement with the Governors and States’ Chief Judges for speedy trial of Awaiting Trial Inmates which constitute the largest population at the Custodial Centres across the country.