Nigeria: COVID-19 - Buhari Orders Release of 2,600 Prisoners

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

Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola disclosed this at a World Press Conference at the Nigeria Correctional Service (NCoS) on Thursday morning

He said; "a total number of 2,600 inmates spread across our various custodial centres qualify to benefit from the amnesty. These include 885 convicts who could not pay their fines totaling 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 have 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," Aregbesola added.

Prof 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.

Speaking at the occasion, the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Justice Abubakar Malami, said of the above numbers, 39 were granted clemency - four of which are in the Kuje Custodial Centre.

Malami said the government's action is in line with the advice of the UN which called on countries of the world to reduce the population of prisons so as to encourage social distancing.

There are 73, 756 inmates in custodial centres all over the country presently with 51,983 of them on the Awaiting Trial list, according to Ja'afaru Ahmed, the Controller General of NCoS.

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