Nigeria considers mass release of prison inmates over Coronavirus

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Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola has called for the immediate decongestion of all correctional centres in the country as a measure to ensure that Coronavirus does not find its way into any of the centres.

In a statement signed by the Ministry’s Director of Press and Public Relations, Mohammed Manga, the Minister made the call during an emergency meeting held in his office in Abuja on how to manage the custodial centres of the Nigerian Correctional Service, NCS during the Coronavirus pandemic.

He stated that the meeting was conveyed in response to the outcome of the Presidential Task Force meeting on Coronavirus, noting that the safety of inmates, staff of the Nigeria Correctional Service and all Nigerians was of great concern to the government.

The Minister emphasised that the country was in an extraordinary situation which requires all hands to be on deck in order to ensure that the pandemic does not go into any of the custodian centres.

Aregbesola therefore called on the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, States Chief Judges, Governors and other stakeholders in the justice sector to immediately identify measures to be taken for quick decongestion of the custodial centres across the country as a way of preventing the spread of Coronavirus at the centres.

Aregbesola also noted that the number of those in the custodial centres across the country calls for quick response particularly in the present situation, as they are more vulnerable to infection, adding that the situation is further compounded by the huge number of Awaiting Trial Persons which accounts for over 70% of the national inmates’ population in the country’s holding facilities.

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