The Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN), said it has started implementing a programme for the decongestion of correctional centres in the country.
Malami, made this known at the flag-off of the 2020 Presidential Pardon and Clemency granted recently by President Muhammadu Buhari to convicts in Correctional/Custodial centres across the country, held at the Kuje Correctional Centre, FCT.
A statement signed by his media aide, Dr Umar Gwandu, said the move was for speedy decongestion of the correctional facilities in view of the COVID-19 pandemic in the country.
He explained that the process of identifying the beneficiaries began in 2018 when sequel to Mr. President’s approval, the Presidential Advisory Committee on Prerogative of Mercy (PACPM) was inaugurated on the 28th August, 2018 to grant pardon/clemency to deserving inmates and ex-convicts in line with the provisions of Section 175 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended).
According to Gwandu, out of 176 individuals interviewed, two inmates were granted pardon, while 39 received clemency. He said five ex-convicts were also granted pardon.
“My office will take necessary steps to publish the names of these beneficiaries in the Federal Gazette in line with extant laws and Regulations,” he added.
The AGF called for non-custodial measures to reduce the over 70 percent of inmates who are awaiting trial and those convicted for minor offences.
NGO seeks presidential aide for all detainees
Meanwhile, the Legal Defence and Assistant Project (LEDAP) has called on the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-29 to swiftly provide isolation centres and test kits in all detention facilities nationwide.
Its National Coordinator, Dr Chino Obiagwu (SAN), in a statement on Thursday, said the condition of these centres and exposure of the inmates make them “extremely vulnerable” to infections.
Nigerian detention facilities with the Nigerian Police, military, DSS, Civil Defence, EFCC, ICPC, NDLEA, and Correctional Centres have been alleged to be very unhygienic and congested with the number of inmates usually surpassing the built capacity.
Obiagwu said, “As a matter of urgency that tests be carried out across all Correctional Service Centres situated in states that have cases of coronavirus to ascertain the level of exposure within those facilities.”