Correctional service decongestion: 32 inmates regain freedom in FCT

Holding Cell at Ikoyi prison
Holding Cell at a prison

The Presidential Committee on Correctional Service Reform and Decongestion, on Thursday in Kuje, released 32 inmates from the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Correctional Service.

The Chairman of the Committee and Chief Judge of the FCT High Court, Ishaq Bello, signed the warrant of release of the inmates under the presidential amnesty.

Mr Bello said 28 of the inmates were released under prerogative of mercy while four were released under presidential pardon.

He called on the freed inmates to stay clear of the crimes that brought them to the correctional centre and engage in positive ventures that would better their lives.

The Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola, said the inmates released were drawn from Suleja, Dukpa and Kuje correctional centres.

He said the inmates released, comprised those whose names were on the presidential approved list and those whose fines were paid by the FCT authority.

Mr Aregbesola called on the government at the subnational level to revive their prerogative of mercy committees to regularly visit the correctional centres and recommend deserving and qualified inmates for amnesty.

He commended President Muhammadu Buhari for his consideration of the correctional service’s request to release the inmates, adding that the process would be progressive.

“I enjoined the public to support the process by accommodating those that will benefit from it. There should be no stigmatisation, we should support their reintegration into the society and help them.

“The inmates were remorseful and had regretted the circumstances that brought them to the correctional centres and had pledged to turn a new leaf,” he said.

In his remark, the Minister of information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, said COVID-19 was a catalyst, not to start the process but to quicken the release of the inmates.

He said the issue of prison congestion had always been utmost in the mind of the Federal Government.

He said the step being taken by the government to look at those awaiting trial and those in jail would help in decongesting the correctional service.

He called on the released inmates to focus on their future and not the circumstances that brought them to the correctional centres.

“You must reinvent yourselves, believe in yourselves, have enough confidence in yourselves and assure yourselves that despite the earlier mistakes in your life, you can aspire to be whatever you want.

“Don’t wallow in self-pity, you cannot bring back yesterday, but you can make good use of today and prepare for tomorrow,” he said.

One of the released inmates, Moses Nwaigwe, who spoke on behalf of others, commended the federal government for deeming it important to set them free.

He said the efforts of the government and other stakeholders that secured their release would not be in vain.

Mr Nwaigwe called on the federal government to look into the cases of inmates who had served over 10 years in the correctional centres awaiting trial.


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