By Vivian Okejeme, Abuja
The Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, yesterday, revealed that about 3,768 prisoners have so regained their freedom across the country in the on-going prison decongestion exercise.
Malami made this known in Abuja at a media briefing themed: Effective Implementation of The Correctional Service Act, 2019.
It will be recall that the AGF, had on October 2017, constituted a Presidential Committee on Prisons Reform and Decongestion headed by the FCT High Court Judge, Ishaq Bello, with the view to decongest the Nigeria prisons and arrest it’s deplorable state.
According to the AGF, the Committee has since its inauguration visited and appraised about thirty-four (34) prisons in sixteen (16) states of the federation.
“A total number of Three Thousand, Seven Hundred and Sixty-Eight (3,768), have so far been released during these exercise via payment of fines for convicts for minor offences with the option of fine, general review of peculiar cases and advocacy overtures to relevant authorities.
Describing the passage of the Act as a major turning point in Prisons Reform and Justice Sector delivery in Nigeria, the AGF said the Act has some innovative provisions which address some major issues that have been of concern to stakeholders in the Justice sector.
Further in his speech, Malami said the Committee has written letters of appeal to several State Government Executives to act on some special cases encountered during the visits to various prisons in some states as well as to exercise their powers of clemency in deserving cases or commute to life sentence those condemned to death.
He added that the committee has also made recommendations to the relevant authorities for the renovation/construction of prison facilities.
Speaking earlier, the committee chairman, Justice Ishaq Bello challenged state chief judges to ensure speedy trials of inmates, noting that the change of name from prison service to correctional has demonstrated government actions.
“The change of name from prison to correctional is not mere ceremony. Government has practically demonstrated through its action its readiness to rid our prisons of overcrowdings and on our part; we have gone round quite a number of the states of the federation in carrying out the task.