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Nigerian govt decongests prisons to stem spread of COVID-19

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The Federal Government of Nigeria led by President Muhammadu Buhari has ordered the decongestion of Correctional Service formations in the country due to fears of the spread of COVID-19.

This was revealed in a statement issued on Friday night by the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, who said that the President was concerned that around seventy percent of the inmates were awaiting trial amid the outbreak of the disease.

He said that Buhari had constituted a Presidential Committee for the Decongestion of the Correctional Centers to intensify actions to reduce inmates amid the health challenges associated with COVID-19.

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Malami said that; “The Committee requested that Mr. President may wish to consider his powers of Prerogative of Mercy in speeding of decongestion, while Governors of States and their CJs be encouraged to visit correctional service formations for the purpose of decongestion.

“The Committee is of the view that the Federal Executive Council and the State Governments be encouraged to consider payment of fines in respect of minor offences for those categories of inmates that could not afford paying of same in respect of offences that attract fines arising from the convictions.”

Malami revealed that categories of inmates that will be considered are those that stayed in Correctional Service Centres for a period above ten years and those that stayed as inmate for a longer period without any documentation relating to their detention.

“Others are those that have the option of fine, those that have been in the Centers on holding charges in respect of offences that the Magistrate that sent them to Correctional Service Formations do not have the jurisdiction to try the cases, among others,” he added.

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