The Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr Abubakar Malami (SAN), has said the number of death row inmates in prisons nationwide has reached 1,832, contributing to the congestion in the detention facilities.
Malami, who disclosed this in his report of the activities of the Federal Ministry of Justice for the three years under his watch, said death row inmates who had exhausted their rights of appeal continued to contribute to the overcrowding of the prisons due to governors’ reluctance to sign their death warrants.
He said in the report which he signed in April this year and a copy of which this newspaper holds, that his ministry was preparing a memorandum to be sent to the National Economic Council to seek its intervention.
He stated, “A major challenge presently being faced in efforts to decongest the prisons is the reluctance of state governors to sign death warrants of condemned inmates who have exhausted their appeals, thereby contributing to overcrowding.
“The total number of condemned inmates in various prisons across the country presently stands at 1,832.
“The FMOJ (Federal Ministry of Justice) is presently preparing a memorandum to the National Economic Council to appraise the governors of this issue and seek their cooperation in addressing this challenge.”
Meanwhile, the NEC, presided over by the Vice-President, Yemi Osinbajo, had in February 2017 charged governors to sign death warrants of inmates who had exhausted their rights of appeal in order to address the issues of overcrowding and jailbreaks, among other problems confronting the Nigerian prisons.
Malami noted in his report that the Nigerian prisons, over the years, had been “a source of concern due to overcrowding, under-staffing, lack of adequate medical care, inadequate conditions for female and juvenile detainees, poor administration, long detention of those awaiting trial and limited access to legal representation.”
These problems, the minister said, had “frequently led to poor health conditions and jailbreaks.”
He recalled that the Federal Executive Council had directed his ministry to review the legal regime of the prisons service, establish a case management system nationwide to integrate the existing Prison Information System covering Lagos, Enugu, and Abuja; and undertake sustainable prison decongestion initiatives.
He had constituted a National Stakeholders Committee on Prisons Reforms and Decongestion chaired by the Chief Judge of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory “to oversee the implementation of the directive.”
He added that ministry’s memo seeking FEC’s approval “for the installation and implementation of an automated case management system for the justice sector is awaiting the council’s consideration.”
Malami added, “The case management system when put in place, will strengthen the operations of the justice sector institutions such as the police, prisons, judiciary, ministries of justice, and other security agencies in the areas of information generation, management and sharing…”
The 50-page report presented by the AGF is titled, ‘A Presentation on Specific Activities for Transforming the Administration of Justice and State Legal Affairs: Three-Year Activity Review of the Federal Ministry of Justice (2015 – 2018)’.
It contains reports from the various departments of the Federal Ministry of Justice.
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