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Nigerian govt may commute death sentence to life imprisonment for some inmates

The Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN), said on Tuesday the Federal Government was considering putting in place a process for commuting the death sentence of inmates who had stayed for more 10 years on death row to life imprisonment.

Malami, who disclosed this at a press briefing on the achievements of the Presidential Committee on Correctional Service Reform and Decongestion, added that inmates awaiting trial for upwards of five years might also be released.

He, however, said inmates who had been convicted for rape and other similar offences would not be considered for release during the proposed exercise because of the recent upsurge in such crimes.

He told journalists that the PCCSRD had facilitated the release of 7,813 prison inmates since October 2017 when the committee was inaugurated.

According to him, the inmates were released during the committee’s tour of 38 prisons in 18 states of the federation.

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The AGF added that the inmates were released following general review of “peculiar cases” and payment of fines for convicts of minor offences who were given options of fine but could not pay.

He also revealed that 3,789 inmates had been released from prison in response to the COVID-19 threat.

Malami said: “Also, to be revisited is the issue of condemned convicts on death row for over 10 years with a view of getting relevant authorities to commute the sentence to life imprisonment.

“This is based on the provisions of Section 12 (2) (c) of the Nigerian Correctional Service Act, 2019.

“A review of cases of inmates awaiting trial for upwards of five years will also be considered.

“We are very mindful of the increasing number of sexual assault and kidnapping; and with respect to the public interest those who are charged or convicted for such offences will not be considered for release during the proposed exercise.”

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