Law News
Lawyers Laud AGF’s Proposed Institutional, Policy Reforms

Lawyers have applauded the proposed prison reform and decongestion programme announced as part of the institutional and policy reforms at the Ministry of Justice.

The Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami (SAN), last week announced the planned prison reform and decongestion programme at a meeting with management of the Ministry of Justice.

He said the intervention programme will propagate and foster viable strategies to address the problem of increasing number of awaiting trial persons in the prisons nationwide, adding that it will further consider the general state of the Nigerian prisons and the condition of the inmates.

Malami added that in accordance with the approval and mandate of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) at its 19th meeting held on May 24th, the Justice ministry in collaboration with other stakeholders will look into cases of condemned convicts on death row for over 10 years with the view to getting relevant authorities to commute the sentences to life imprisonment.

He said the programme will also seek to determine and consider all inmates convicted on minor offences with option of fine but are unable to pay such fines. He said the programme will assist in the payment of such fines subject to the option of community service on the part of the convicts.

Reacting, Barrister Nureni Sulyman, said it is a long expected move. “When you get to most of the prisons, you discover that a lot of awaiting trial inmates are kept in a congested environment and most have been languishing there for many years.

However, the Chairman of the Capital (Bwari) Bar, Barrister Mohammed Tsav, said the government should be careful with the arrangement.

“Some of these convicts like in the case of terrorism, militancy and so on still have followership. So, I will not subscribe to commuting the sentences to life imprisonment because some of these convicts can still influence actions of others even from their incarceration.

“Another challenge is that there is still going to be the situation of maintaining these people. This is why it needs serious consideration from the government as to what kind of condemned prisoners they intend to keep in prison and keep maintaining them with tax payers’ money”, he said.

The Daily Trust News

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