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COVID-19: Buhari tasks CJN on speedy case trials, prison decongestion

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CONCERNED about the possible effects of COVID-19 on inmates in correctional centres, President MuhammaduBuhari yesterday called for urgent and speedy trial of court cases.

Buhari made the call in a letter to the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Tanko Muhammad.

  The letter came against the backdrop of a presidential pardon that the president in the exercise of his powers on Prerogative of Mercy granted 41 inmates of correctional centres on April 9. He had also called on governors to consider clemency for 2,600 inmates under their authority.

  According to him, decongesting custodial centres had become imminent following the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic.

  “From available records, the inmates’ population at various custodial centres across the country presently stands at 74,127 out of which 52,226 are Awaiting Trial Persons (ATPs). Most of these custodial centres are presently housing inmates beyond their 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, hence the need for urgent steps to bring the situation under control,” the president said.

  The President also stressed that there is the need to ensure that Chief Judges of states and FCT High Courts direct lower courts to comply with requirements of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act/Law in issuing remand warrants in criminal cases especially in cases which are not within their jurisdiction.

  This, he explained, will regulate the volume of entry of Awaiting Trial Inmates into custodial centres.

  Meanwhile, no fewer than 115 inmates regained their freedom from six Nigerian Correctional Service (NCS) centres in Nasarawa State, following President MuhammaduBuhari’s directive to decongest prisons to contain the spread of COVID-19.

  Gov. AbdullahiSule of Nasarawa state, while performing a brief ceremony today in Lafia, advised the freed inmates to be agents of positive change to the society.

  Similarly, Kebbi State Government released 111 inmates of correctional centres as part of federal government’s process to protect inmates from contracting COVID-19 across the country.

  The order for their release was contained in a statement by Special Adviser to Gov. AtikuBagudu on Media in BirninKebbi, YahayaSarki, today.

  “Kebbi State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, HajiyaRamatuAdamu-Gulma, revealed that over 111 inmates were released during the exercise as performed by the Chief Justice of the state, Justice Sulaiman Muhammad-Ambursa at Argungu and BirninKebbi new and old Correctional Service Centres. The state government has paid fines of the inmates in addition to giving them N10,000 each to cater for transportation back to their respective destinations,” he said.

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