This development is coming as a result of a bill seeking to mandate the Chief Justice of Nigeria and state chief judges to release prison inmates unlawfully detained or who had overstayed their prison terms. The bill has passed the second reading at Senate plenary. The bill for an Act to Amend the Criminal Justice (Release from Custody) (Special Provisions) Act Cap C40 Laws of The Federation of Nigeria 2004, also sought to decongest Nigerian prisons.
Senator Babajide Omoworare (Osun East), who sponsored the bill, said it was disheartening that Nigerian Prisons currently host almost 70 per cent of inmates awaiting trial. He recalled how the Minister of Interior, Abba Moro, recently admitted that 30,000 or over 65 per cent of over 46,000 inmates of prisons across the country were awaiting trial.
He further said the bill sought to amend two sections of the Act which was enacted in 1977. He quoted Section 1 of the Act, which states that “in respect of any person detained in any prison in Nigeria, not being a person detained in execution of a sentence of a court or tribunal duly constituted by the law, the Chief Justice of Nigeria or chief judge of a state is satisfied that the detention of that person is manifestly unlawful…”
Senator Omoworare said detaining people beyond their prison terms or subjecting people to unlawful detention was an infringement on the fundamental rights of victims.