The Federal Government of Nigeria through the Ministry of Interior, has sought the cooperation of state governments in dealing with the challenges of prison congestion.
The Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Adesoji Aregbesola, made the call while commissioning the Osun State Command office complex of the Nigerian Correctional Service, in Osogbo on Friday.
Aregbesola urged state governors to sign the death warrants of the 3,008 condemned criminals waiting for execution, especially those whose appeals had been exhausted and were not mounting challenges to their convictions, as part of measures to decongest prisons nationwide.
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The minister enumerated three avenues to decongest prisons, saying governors could accelerate the wheel of justice, as many inmates had been in custody for a period longer than the maximum sentence their alleged offences carry, which he described as miscarriage of justice.
Aregbesola also urged states to share in the burden of decongesting custodial facilities by constructing holding centres, adding that all the states needed to do was to build the facilities to specification and set aside a sum for the maintenance of inmates, while the NCS provided the personnel to man and run the facilities.
He said, “The third way is for state governors to summon the will to do the needful on death row convicts. There are presently 3,008 condemned criminals waiting for their date with the executioners in our meagre custodial facilities. This consists of 2,952 males and 56 females.
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“In cases where appeal has been exhausted and the convicts are not mounting any challenge to their conviction, the state should go ahead, one, to do the needful and bring closure to their cases; two, set some others free on compassionate grounds, especially those who have grown old on account of the long time they have been in custody, those who are terminally ill and those who have been reformed and demonstrated exceptionally good behaviour; and three, commute others’ sentences to life or a specific term in jail.”
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