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COVID-19: Buhari frees 2,600 prisoners

President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the release of 2,600 inmates nationwide as part of efforts to decongest custodial centres and halt the spread of coronavirus…

President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the release of 2,600 inmates nationwide as part of efforts to decongest custodial centres and halt the spread of coronavirus pandemic in the country.

The Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola, disclosed this yesterday at a press conference at the Nigeria Correctional Service, Abuja.

He said “a total number of 2,600 inmates spread across various custodial centres qualified to benefit from the amnesty.

He said: “These include 885 convicts who could not pay their fines totalling N21.4 million which the government will pay on their behalf to enable them get their freedom. From this number, 41 inmates are federal convicts, two of which have been granted pardon.”

He also said five ex-convicts recommended for presidential pardon had been so pardoned. “They are late Prof. Ambrose Ali, Late Chief Anthony Enahoro, Ex Lt. Col. Moses Effiong, Major E.J. Olanrewaju and Ajayi Olusola Babalola.”

Ali was the governor of the old Bendel State in the Second Republic (1978-1983) and a great progressive; while Chief Enahoro was a foremost nationalist who moved the motion for Nigeria’s independence.

The Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, said of the above numbers, 39 were granted clemency, four of whom were at the Kuje Custodial Centre.

Malami said the government’s action was in line with the advice of the United Nations which called on countries of the world to reduce the population of prisons to encourage social distancing.

There are 73, 756 inmates in custodial centres all over the country currently with 51,983 of them on the awaiting trial list, according to Ja’afaru Ahmed, the Controller-General of NCoS.