Interior Minister Rauf Aregbesola has disclosed that he would meet with state governors in order to reach an agreement on the release of at least 30% of inmates from detention facilities across the nation.
Aregbesola announced this on the News Agency of Nigeria Forum in Abuja on Sunday.
The minister claimed that since more than 90% of the inmates were being jailed for breaking various state laws, there was a need for the interface.
Aregbesola added that more than 70% of the current 75,635 inmates were awaiting trial.
The minister claimed that the percentage of federal offenders in the system was much lower than 10% and added that the majority of those in detention had broken state law.
He claimed that as a result, they were still subject to the legal authority of their respective states.
The minister continued by saying that some of the prisoners had no need to remain in jail, making it imperative to decongest the nation’s 253 detention facilities.
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Aregbesola, therefore, said all stakeholders must work towards a “better structured criminal justice administration, otherwise we will just be left with congested and overcrowded facilities.”
He said, “I have written the Nigerian Governors Forum to allow me to come and address them on how they can support the process of decongestion.
“Because the governors must buy into this system for us to do a massive decongestion especially of Awaiting Trial Inmates.
“If we get the buy in of state judicial authorities and the government of the states, we can pull out 30 per cent of those who are there.”
According to him, some of the awaiting trial inmates have stayed longer than the punishment provided by law for the crime they were arrested for.
“If you look at a man that is caught for petty theft and you are trying him for three years, even if you convict him for that crime, how long will he stay?
“How long will that fellow stay, probably six months, but without trial he will be there for three years.
“Again, you arrested a boy under the bridge, there is no fixed crime and he is there forever and so on and so forth.
“So, we need the buying in and support from state governments.
“This is for them to critically know the situation and let them set up committees that will profile all those who are there.
“And help either to convict, release them or see if they have overstayed their required time,” the minister said.