Fears of COVID-19 Outbreak in Custodial Centres Grip Stakeholders, Want President Buhari to Act Fast

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Worried by the high number of inmates in Nigeria’s Custodial centres across the country amid ravaging Coronavirus pandemic, stakeholders have recommended urgent action that must be taken by President Muhammadu Buhari and State governments to avert a disaster waiting to happen.

The stakeholders, including the Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola, Controller-General of Corrections,  Ja’afaru Ahmed, Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami and the Chief Judge of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Ishaq Bello, after a meeting on Thursday resolved that certain categories of inmates be granted amnesty.

The stakeholders called on President Buhari to request the State Governors to visit the Custodial Centres in their states with the Chief Judges and State Attorney Generals, for the purpose of considering and granting amnesty to deserving inmates.

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The Controller General of Corrections at the  Nigeria Correctional Service, Ja’afaru Ahmed had disclosed that the Nigeria 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 are Awaiting Trial.

On his part, the Controller General of Corrections 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.

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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.

The Chief Judge of the Federal Capital Territory High Court, Ishaq Bello also called for constitutional amendment to remove the Nigeria Correctional Service (NCos) from the exclusive legislative list to concurrent list, for easy Administration of Criminal Justice System and as a necessary measure for decongestion of Custodial facilities across the nation.

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