AGF, FCT Minister, Others Secure Release Of 126 Inmates
Mr Abubakar Malami (SAN), the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, on Thursday, led Presidential Committee on Prison Decongestion to Kuje Prison in Federal Capital Territory (FCT) to secure the release of 126 inmates.
Malami, who said prison congestion had negatively affected the quality of Nigeria’s justice system, added that the visit was part of present administration’s determination to fast track prison decongestion.
He added that “congestion also impacts adversely on the human rights of inmates. This is why it is necessary to prioritise the exercise which will be replicated across various prisons in the country.”
The minister, alongside a civil society organisation, paid the fines of 12 inmates who were convicted for offences with option of fines.
The FCT Minister, Mr Mohammed Bello, paid the fines of 114 inmates who were also convicted with option of fines.
The 114 inmates were serving jail terms with option of fines ranging from N15,000 to N50,000 in Suleja, Keffi and Farm Centre Prisons.
A 60-year old man, Musa Abdullahi, who had been awaiting trial for eight years, was among those released on the grounds that he was a victim of circumstance.
Abdullahi Umar who was serving life imprisonment, was among the inmates who regained freedom on the grounds that he exhibited good behaviour.
Umar had been condemned to die by hanging as a minor, but his sentence was converted to life imprisonment.
The Chairman of the committee, Justice Ishaq Bello, said other prisons had also been identified across the country where the committee would visit and decongest within its terms of reference.
Bello, who is the Chief Judge of FCT High Court, added that the committee would engage necessary partners to enable it to achieve its target.
In a goodwill message, the Minister of Interior, Mr Abdulrahman Dambazau, noted that the present administration was determined to ensure that the rights of inmates were protected and respected.
He added that “access to justice had improved as we increased the number of prison vehicles to ensure that inmates were taken to court to attend their cases; we also improved feeding and provided more drugs to inmates.”
Dambazau, who was represented by the Comptroller-General of Prisons, Mr Jafaru Ahmed, advised prisoners who regained their freedom to be good citizens and contribute to the growth of society.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Kuje Prison with a capacity of 560 currently has 823 inmates.
Out of the number, 222 had been convicted, while 601 were awaiting trial. (NAN)