Inmates on death penalty may get life – Malami reveals

The Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr Abubakar Malami (SAN), said on Tuesday that the Federal Government was planning a process of commuting the death penalty of condemned inmates with over 10 years on death row to life imprisonment.

Malami who said this in Abuja at a press briefing on the achievements of the Presidential Committee on Correctional Service Reform and Decongestion, also said inmates awaiting trial for upwards of five years might be released.

But he said considering the increasing number of incidents of sexual and kidnap cases, inmates who had been convicted for such offences would not be considered for release during the proposed exercise.

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He stated, “Also, to be revisited is the issue of condemned convicts on death row for over ten (10) years with a view of getting relevant authorities to commute the sentence to life imprisonment.

“This is based on the provisions of Section 12 (2) (c) of the Nigerian Correctional Service Act, 2019.

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“A review of cases of inmates awaiting trial for upwards of five years will also be considered.

“We are very mindful of the increasing number of sexual assault and kidnapping; and with respect to the public interest those who are charged or convicted for such offences will not be considered for release during the proposed exercise.”

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He said the PCCSRD had facilitated the release of 7,813 prison inmates since October 2017 when the committee was inaugurated.

The PCCSRD’s name was changed from the Presidential Committee on Prisons Reform and Decongestion following the rechristening of the Nigerian Prisons Service as the Nigerian Correctional Service in 2019.

The committee was inaugurated by the minister in October 2017 with the Chief Judge of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, Justice Ishas Bello, appointed as its chairman.

Malami said the 7,813 inmates were released during the committee’s tour of 38 prisons in 18 states of the federation.

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He said the inmates were released following general review of “peculiar cases” and payment of fines for convicts for minor offences who were given options of fine but could not pay.

He also said 3,789 inmates had been released from prison in response to the COVID-19 threat.

Ade Adesomoju, Abuja

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