The Nigerian government has granted amnesty to at least 2,600 prisoners throughout the country.
At a press conference on Thursday, Interior Minister Rauf Aregbesola said the decision was taken as part of steps to broadcast the country’s prisons amid a coronavirus pandemic.
He said, “In a symbolic gesture of the amnesty given to the 2,600 inmates across Nigeria, 41 Federal inmates and 29 FCT inmates making a total of 70 inmates who met the above criteria will be released today from the Kuje Custodial Centre in Abuja.
“This amnesty will not apply to inmates sentenced for violent extreme offences such as terrorism, kidnapping, armed banditry, rape, human trafficking, culpable homicide and so on.
“The governors of the 36 states under whose jurisdiction most of the inmates were incarcerated will complete the exercise in line with the federal principle.”
Recall that Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Femi Falana, had on Wednesday urged the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Ibrahim Muhammad, to prevail on judges in the country to “hear urgent applications via Skype or Zoom during the lockdown”.
Following the outbreak of Coronavirus in Nigeria, courts were directed to shut down until the pandemic was brought under control by the government.
But encouraging judges to embrace technological tools to attend to cases during this lockdown period, Falana in the letter to the CJN said, “Since the Federal Government has relaxed the lockdown by allowing markets, shops and stalls selling food and groceries to open to customers between the hours of 10:00 am and 2:00 pm daily, the National Judicial Council ought to review the suspension of court sittings to enable them to attend to urgent matters to ensure that thousands of people who are either awaiting trial or under investigation are not subjected to unlawful detention.”
That strategy has already been adopted in Kenya where 4,800 prisoners had been released by judges after hearing their cases through Skype and Zoom, a report by CNN said.