President Muhammadu Buhari has asked the Chief Justice of the Federation, Ibrahim Tanko Muhammed, to release prison inmates that have been on the awaiting trial list for 6 years or more, in order to reduce overcrowding in correctional facilities, as the coronavirus disease spreads.
This was disclosed in a letter written to Nigeria’s Chief Justice by the President. President Buhari, while pointing out that about 42% of 74,127 inmates are awaiting trial, urged the Chief Justice, Ibrahim Tanko, to reduce the number of prisoners, since physical distancing and self-isolation in such conditions are impossible.
The president also drew the attention of Tanko Muhammad to the recent call by the United Nations on all countries to consciously reduce the population of prison inmates.
(READ MORE: Abba Kyari’s last letter to President Buhari)
In the President’s letter, he said, “Most of these custodial centres are presently housing inmates beyond the capacities, and the overcrowded facilities pose a potent threat to the health of the inmates and the public in general in view of the present circumstances.”
“It has become imperative for your Lordship to request State Chief Judges to embark on an immediate visit to all custodial /correctional centres within their respective states to identify and release deserving inmates where that has not been done already,” the President said.
Going further, he said, ‘’The Chief Judges are enjoined to consider the conditional or unconditional release of ATPs who have spent 6 years or more in custody. ATPs who have no confirmed criminal cases against them, aged and terminally ill may be discharged.”
The president wants the aged, those with health issues, low-risk offenders, inmates convicted of minor offences with or without an option of fines, and inmates with less than 3-year prison terms left to serve, having served a substantial term of their service for offences that attract 5 years and above, to be released from prison.
It would be recalled that two weeks ago, the president pardoned 2,600 prisoners who were either 60 years and above, terminally ill, or had less than 6 months left to serve out their prison terms of 3 years or more.
The country had recorded 117 confirmed new cases on Tuesday, bringing the total number of cases to 782, with 197 recoveries and 25 deaths.