Human Right Lawyer, Aladesanmi Joke applauds the Federal Government decision to decongest Custodial Centres as a way of preventing the spread of the Covid 19 Pandemic among inmates
The President via a letter dated the 22nd April 2020 has directed the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Hon. Justice Ibrahim Tanko Muhammad to request that the Chief Justices in the respective states of the Federation visits the custodial/correctional centres within their jurisdiction to identify and release deserving Inmates. This is in view of the United Nations recommendation to consciously reduce the population of prison inmates for the purpose of social distancing which is totally impracticable in the overcrowded correctional facilities.
While it is good news that the Federal Government has put into consideration the state of health and wellbeing of the inmates, it is however important that the Federal and State government take further steps in ensuring that the released inmates are adequately cared and catered for throughout this period of uncertainty.
It is pertinent to state that most of the inmates who will benefit from this development have lost touch with their families and loved ones or might even have difficulties travelling to their respective states of residence or origin as the boundaries for most states are presently closed. It is undeniable that persons who fall within this category might have to find other means of survival which may include resorting to crime commission.
It is therefore my recommendation that the government should make adequate provision for the inmates to ensure their sustenance throughout the period of the lockdown and beyond. I also recommend that the government should ensure that beneficiaries of the prison decongestion be handed over to relatives who can guarantee their safety and account for them when necessary.
I wish to stress that the lives of all inmates are as important as that of any other Nigerian hence it is necessary that the released inmates have adequate provisions that would ease their rehabilitation and reintegration into the society which in return would lead to a reduction in social vices and security instability.
In Conclusion, I call on the Nigerian Government to sustain the decongestion measures beyond this pandemic period as inmates are very vulnerable to various ailments due to the overcrowding of the prisons.