CSOs support FG’s move to free 30% of awaiting trial inmates

SOME Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) in Nigeria have commended the move by the Federal Government to decongest Nigeria’s custodial centres by 30 per cent.

The groups said the move was necessary because the country’s correctional centres lacked adequate resources and facilities to properly correct the large number of inmates.

Nigeria’s Minister of Interior Rauf Aregbesola had on October 10 disclosed plans to meet with state governors to agree on the mass release of at least 30 per cent of inmates awaiting trial from custodial centres.

Aregbosola said the move was due to the fact that majority of the incarcerated persons were state offenders.

Five CSOs endorsed the plan in a letter they collectively signed. The letter was made available to The ICIR.

The CSOs are Center for Legal Support and Inmate Rehabilitation, Citizens’ Gavel Foundation for Social Justice, Connect Hub NG, Headfort Foundation and Hope Behind Bars Africa.

“This intervention is commendable as it aligns with the provisions of Section 175 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended), Section 2 (1)(a)(b)(c), Section 12 of the Nigeria Correctional Services Act 2019, and the general provision of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015 on the speedy dispensation of justice.

“We thus reinstate our commitment to supporting the government as it works towards the 30 per cent decongestion of correctional facilities in Nigeria”, parts of the statement read.

However, the groups urged the government to create a workable plan for the proper reintegration of the inmates to avoid them going back to their old ways.

“Cumulatively, we have provided direct support services to thousands of indigent pre-trial detainees in Nigeria. These include legal aid and reintegration support,” they added.

Sinafi Omanga is a journalist with The ICIR. His Twitter handle is @OmangaSinafi and Email: [email protected]

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