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Buhari wants special courts for kidnapping, armed robbery, banditry

President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday advised the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Ibrahim Tanko Muhammad to consider taking immediate steps to ensure the setting up or…

President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday advised the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Ibrahim Tanko Muhammad to consider taking immediate steps to ensure the setting up or designation of Special Courts in all States, including the FCT, to try cases of armed robbery, banditry, kidnapping and other serious offences to facilitate speedy trials.

Buhari, in a letter to Justice Muhammad, said: “there is the need to ensure that the Chief Judges of States and FCT High Courts direct lower courts to comply with requirements of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act/Law in issuing remand warrants in criminal cases especially in cases which are not within their jurisdiction.”

According to him, “this will regulate the volume of entry of Awaiting Trial Inmates into custodial centres.”

Buhari, who called for urgent measures towards the speedy trial of cases and decongestion of custodial centres in the country in view of COVID-19 pandemic, drew His Lordship’s attention to the recent call by the United Nations on all countries “to consciously reduce the population of prison inmates since physical distancing and self-isolation in such conditions are practically impossible.”

According to him, “From available records, the inmates population at various custodial centres across the country presently stands at about 74,127 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.”

He said that in view of the above scenario, “it has become imperative for Your Lordship to request State Chief Judges to embark on immediate visit to all custodial/correctional centres within their respective states to identify and release deserving inmates where that has not been done already.”

The president, in a statement by his spokesperson Femi Adesina, said during such visits, “the Chief Judges are enjoined to consider conditional or unconditional release of ATPs who have spent 6 years or more in custody. ATPs who have no confirmed criminal cases against them, aged inmates and terminally ill may be discharged.”

 

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