There are indications that Nigerian prisons, known as correctional centres, will soon be thrown open for certain category of inmates to regain freedom under the presidential pardon, as part of the measures to control the spread coronavirus in the country.
This hint was dropped today, April 9, by the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami in a statement by his Special Assistant on Media and Public Relations, Dr. Umar Jibrilu Gwandu.
The statement said that Abubakar Malami, at the flag-off of the 2020 Presidential Pardon and Clemency, held at Kuje Correctional Centre, Abuja said that in furtherance to the efforts to put COVID -19 under control, President Buhari requested appropriate authorities to embark on a visit to all correctional/custodial centres within their respective States to identify and release deserving inmates.
“During the visit, there should be conditional or unconditional
release of ATPs who have spent a substantial number of years in
custody especially those with no sufficient legal basis to remain in
custody,” he said emphasizing that Mr. President has requested that particular attention should be on the aged, especially those with terrminal health issues, low risk offenders as well as the payment of fines for convicts of lesser offences with option of fines, who are in custody because of their inability to pay such fines.
Malami warned all the beneficiaries of the Presidential Pardon and
Clemency to desist from crime and criminality and be of good
“You must rewrite your individual life stories. You must rebuild broken walls in your dignity by diligently using the
experience and various empowerments and trainings received while in custody positively to better your lots to the fullest.”
The Attorney General called the communities and general public to open their hands of fellowship in receiving the beneficiaries and ensure that they are properly reintegrated into the society without any form of stigmatization or discrimination.
“I have confidence in their selection process, and if Mr. President
has pardoned them, you too can forgive them. I urge well-meaning Nigerian to do something positive to better their lots and livelihood including offering them jobs. It is expected that proper reintegration will strengthen their individual resolve to live in line with acceptable social norms and values.”
He reiterated the need to identify new measures to consciously reduce the number of inmates in Nigerian custodial centres beyond the control of COVID – 19 scourges. “We must primarily look into the cases of persons awaiting trial and individuals convicted of minor offences for which fines were the penalty. It is particularly worrisome that about 70% of the inmates in Nigerian prisons are persons awaiting trial and canvassed for the use of non-custodial measures in line with the provisions of the ACJA, 2015 and the Nigerian Correctional Service Act, 2019.
The 2020 flag-off was part of the urgent measures taken by the Federal Government towards the speedy decongestion of correctional/custodial
centres in the country in view of the COVID – 19 Pandemic.