The President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), on Tuesday called for urgent measures towards the speedy trial of cases and decongestion of custodial centres in the country.
He also requested the creation of special courts in all states and the Federal Capital Territory to try serious offences.
Buhari, in a letter to the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Tanko Muhammad, reiterated the call by the United Nations on all countries “to consciously reduce the population of prison inmates.”
Buhari, according to a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, explained in the letter that from available records, “the inmates population at various custodial centres across the country presently stands around 74,127, out of which 52,226 are Awaiting Trial Persons.”
The President stated that most of the custodial centres were housing inmates beyond their capacities.
He said, “The chief judges are enjoined to consider conditional or unconditional release of ATPs who have spent six years or more in custody. ATPs who have no confirmed criminal cases against them, aged inmates and terminally-ill ones may be discharged.
Payment of fines may be made in favour of inmates convicted of lesser offences with option of fine, who are in custody because of their inability to pay such fines.”
The President said a report on the proposed visits was expected to be forwarded to the Presidential Committee on Correctional Service Reform and Decongestion Secretariat, Federal Ministry of Justice, Abuja for compilation and onward transmission to his office.
Buhari also suggested that the Chief Justice “at this stage, consider taking immediate steps as appropriate to ensure the setting up or designation of special courts in all states, including the FCT, to try cases of armed robbery, banditry, kidnapping and other serious offences, in order to facilitate speedy trials.”