In a bid to help contain the spread of coronavirious, Justice Ibrahim Muhammad (CJN) has ordered for the immediate decongestion of all the prisons across the country.
This urgent call is directed to all the Chief Judges (both at the federal and state levels)
Justice Muhammad, in a circular issued on Friday, in his capacity as the Chairman of the National Judicial Council (NJC), directed the Chief Judges to ensure that criminal cases were speedily attended to, while they are also required to visit prisons within their jurisdictions.
The CJN, who regretted the large number of awaiting trial inmates in prisons, said: “it has become imperative for your lordships to embark on immediate visit to all custodial/correctional centres within your respective states to identify and release deserving inmates, where that has not been done already.”
In the circular marked: NJC/9-3/:+9/II/662, the CJN added: “I wish to draw your lordships attention to the need to take urgent measures towards the speedy trial of cases and decongestion of custodial centres in the country in view of COVID-19 pandemic.
“Recently, the United Nations called on countries of the world to consciously reduce the population of prison inmates since physical distancing and self-isolation in such conditions are practically impossible.
” From available records, the inmates population at various custodial centres across the country presently stands at about 74,127 out of which 52,226 are Awaiting Trial Persons (ATPs).
“Most of these custodial centres are presently housing inmates beyond their capacities and the overcrowded facilities pose a potent threat to the health of the inmates and the public in general in view of the present circumstances, hence the need for urgent steps to bring the situation under control.