The Governor of Kano, Umar Ganduje today announced the decongestion of correctional facilities in the State as measure against a possible outbreak within prison walls.
Ganduje visited the Goron Dutse Correctional facility in the state, freeing 300 inmates, with their fines paid.
“In line with the Federal Government’s directive to decongest prisons, I visited the Goron Dutse Correctional Facility with @DGawuna. 300 inmates on lesser charges were freed with their fines paid up by the state. The idea is to reduce the population to avoid a viral outbreak”, the Governor said.
The decongestion of prisons meets up with directives by the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Tanko Muhammad. CJN Muhammad directed all Chief judges to take urgent steps towards the decongestion of the correctional facilities, in order to prevent a Covid19 outbreak.
This directive was seen to be a reaction to the recent request by President Muhammadu Buhari, that the Chief Justice of Nigeria release some categories of prisoners. This includes those who had previously been awaiting trial.
Listed among the categories for release are those with health issues, low-risk offenders, those with no sufficient legal basis to remain in custody, those convicted for minor offences with or without option of fines and those who have less than 3-year term left to serve having served a substantial term of their service for offences that attract 5 years and above, among others.
A circular issued by Chief Justice Muhammad on the 15th of May read:
‘’From available records, the inmates’ population at various custodial centres across the country presently stands at about 76,127 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.
Considering the above, it has become imperative for your Lordships to embark on an immediate visit to all custodial/correctional centres within your respective states to identify and release deserving inmates, where that has not been done already.
During the requested visits, the Chief Judges are expected to consider the conditional or unconditional release of Awaiting Trial Persons (ATPs) who have spent 6 years or more in custody, ATPs who have no confirmed criminal cases against them, aged inmates and terminally ill, who may be discharged”.