by Baron Eloagu,
The Federal Ministry of Justice has released a total of 810 prisoners from Kano and Kaduna prisons.
The Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, disclosed this at the Kano Central Prison yesterday.
He said a total of 360 inmates were released in Kano State, and 450 from prisons in Kaduna State, while the inmates’ fines were also paid.
Malami assured that government would assist the released inmates to participate in the agricultural policy of the government.
He disclosed that government had set up a Prison Reforms and Decongestion Committee to review and pay the fines of inmates convicted for minor offences.
The minister stressed that the conditions in the prisons would improve if some long-term measures as the national centralised database management system were implemented.
“With prison congestion comes a number of human rights and socio-economic development issues. These challenges are affecting not just the inmates, but also their families, prison officials, the justice system and the society at large.”
Governor Nasir El-Rufai, expressed concern that three quarter of inmates were awaiting trial, thereby making the justice system to be unjust.
“In Kaduna, we have supported the prison by providing infrastructure, including the reconstruction of Zaria Prison. “But the biggest problem is the over loading of prisons. We need 20 more judges in Kaduna to enable speedy trial of inmates,” he said.
Also, the Chairman of the Prison Reform and Decongestion Committee, promised to write to various state governors on the need to act on cases within two weeks.
The judge said the committee had in December 2017, released 730 inmates from Kano Prison, while 126 were released from Kuje, Suleija and Keffi prisons.
The Emir of Zazzau, Shehu Idris, urged the committee to consider establishing a prison parole department, where inmates could acquire useful skills to sustain them when released.
Malami also disclosed that the Federal Government would hold a stakeholders’ summit on decongestion.
He said the meeting would discuss how the Federal Executive Council (FEC)’s directive on decongestion could be achieved.
According to him, the meeting, which would hold in the second quarter of this year, is also aimed at empowering inmates after they had regained their freedom.
He explained that chief judges, attorney generals, Nigerian Bar Association, Legal Aid Council of Nigeria, National Human Rights Commission, Civil Society groups and other relevant institutions, would attend the summit.