More than 12,000 inmates released in six years

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More than 12,000 inmates have been released from various correctional facilities across the country in the past six years, Nigerian Attorney General and Justice Minister Abubakar Malami said.

He revealed it on Tuesday when he appeared before the Senate Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Affairs Committee for his ministry’s 2023 budget defense session.

Mr. Malami’s disclosure was in response to questions from panel members about the federal government’s failure to decongest prisons across the country through political action other than the Criminal Justice Administration Act, which is intended for the expeditious administration of justice.

He explained that prison decongestion was high on President Muhammadu Buhari’s to-do list when he took office in 2015. And in this regard, a Presidential Prison Decongestion Committee was created and put into contact with other relevant agencies in the justice sector over a period of time. exit.

The AGF’s comment comes some seven months after the president pardoned some prisoners, including two former governors, Joshua Dariye of Plateau state and former governor Jolly Nyame of Taraba state, an act that drew controversy and criticism.

The pardon, he said, was based on the advice of the Council of States. Both men were serving jail terms after they were found guilty of stealing billions of naira from public funds while they were governors. Their convictions were upheld by the Supreme Court.

PREMIUM TIMES also reported how 300 inmates are being scrutinized for presidential pardons and how Home Minister Rauf Aregbesola said he wants 30% of Nigerian inmates released to decongest prisons.

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Addressing the panel, Mr. Malami said the president also wrote letters to the 36 state governors and chief state judges for required prison visits and exercising the prerogative of mercy from time to time.

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“On one such visit by Kano State Governor Abdullahi Gantuve, clemency was granted to some 500 inmates in one day, all of which led to the release of more than 12,000 inmates across the country in last six years,” he said. . “Special attention was paid to the people awaiting trial who make up the majority of the inmates in the various correctional centers around the country by bringing the magistrates and judges to the centers for the dispensing of justice on site.”

He further explained that the guideline on non-custodial sentences issued in 2020 has also helped a huge reduction in inmates in the various correctional centers.

“The problem, as far as this government is concerned, is already a thing of the past. Consistent with current policy guidelines, no correctional facility today without the required space will receive an inmate.”

Earlier, Committee Chairman Opeyemi Bamidele (APC, Ekiti Central) said that the 2023 budget estimates for the Ministry of Justice and its agencies contained in the Appropriation Bill is N71.291 billion.

The sum, he said, includes allocations to the National Drug Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) and the statutory transfer to the National Human Rights Commission.

He also praised the president for increasing the budget provisions of the Legal Education Council from N2.7 billion in 2022 to a proposed N10.12 billion for fiscal year 2023.

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He said the raise will cause the council to put the various law schools in proper shape.

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