As part of decongestion strategies, the Minister of Interior, Mr Rauf Aregbesola, has asked state governors to sign the death warrants for 3,008 inmates on death row in custodial facilities across the country.
On Friday, Aregbesola inaugurated the newly built headquarters of the Nigerian Correctional Service, NCoS, in Osogbo, Osun State.
A major concern of the Service is jail congestion, according to him, as the entire national correctional system with a maximum capacity of 57,278 inmates currently houses 68,747 people, including 67,422 males and 1,325 females.
A total of 50,992 inmates, or 74 per cent of the total inmates in the nation’s jails, were awaiting trial while only 17,755 inmates, or 26 per cent, were actually convicted.
Mr. Aregbesola stated: “At present, 3,008 condemned criminals await execution in our meager jails. This consists of 2,952 males and 56 females.
“In cases where the state has exhausted its appeal process and the convict has not challenged their conviction, the state should take the required action and bring closure to the case.”
According to Aregbesola, the state governors could, in an alternative, set some of the condemned inmates free on compassionate grounds, especially those who have grown old due to the prolonged confinement and those who are terminally ill.
Additionally, those who had shown exceptional behaviour and had been reformed could be released or have their sentences commuted to life or a specific term of imprisonment.
All of these can be accomplished by putting in place a system of amnesty and prerogative of mercy that periodically reviews the cases of condemned persons on death row.
More than 5,000 inmates were released during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to him, the federal government is building 3,000 high-capacity custodial centres in Kano and Rivers States, as well as Abuja.
According to him, the systems will be extended to all six geopolitical regions in the country, easing traffic congestion and enhancing capability in managing correctional facilities.