The Minister of Interior, Mr Rauf Aregbesola, has asked state governors to sign the death warrant of 3,008 inmates on death row at custodial facilities across the country as part of decongestion strategies.
Aregbesola said this in Osogbo, Osun State on Friday while inaugurating the newly constructed headquarters of the Nigerian Correctional Service, NCoS in the State.
He lamented that jail congestion is the major headache of the Service, saying that the entire national custodial facilities with a maximum capacity for 57,278 inmates currently has a total population of 68,747 inmates, made up of 67,422 males and 1,325 females.
He also noted that 50,992 inmates, representing 74 per cent of the total population of inmates in the nation’s custodial centres were awaiting trial inmates while only 17,755 inmates which is a mere 26 per cent were the actual convicts.
Aregbesola said: “There are presently 3,008 condemned criminals waiting for their date with the executioners in our meagre custodial facilities. This consists of 2,952 males and 56 females.
“In cases where an appeal has been exhausted and the convicts are not mounting any challenge to their conviction, the state should go ahead, to do the needful and bring closure to their cases.”
Aregbesola, however, said the state governors could, in the alternative, set some of the condemned inmates free on compassionate ground, especially those who have grown old on account of the long time they have been in custody and those that are terminally ill.
He added that those that have been reformed and demonstrated exceptionally good behaviour could also be released or commute their sentences to life or specific terms in jail.
He said all these could be done by putting in place a system of amnesty and prerogative of mercy that would review all cases of convicts on death row periodically.
He said more than 5,000 inmates were set free during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.
He said the federal government was building a 3,000 high-capacity custodial centre in Kano and Rivers States as well as Abuja.
He said this would be extended to the six geo-political zones in the country and that it would ease congestion considerably and enhance the capacity to manage the facilities for corrections.