The Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr Abubakar Malami (SAN), said on Thursday that he had proposed the decentralisation of the Nigerian prisons.
Under the current Nigerian Constitution, only the Federal Government has the powers to control and manage the Nigerian prisons, recently renamed Correctional Centres.
Malami, who spoke in Abuja at the National Summit on Correctional Centres Reforms in Nigeria, said he had suggested the proposal for the decentralisation of the management of the prisons at a recent meeting with state Chief Judges and Attorneys-General.
He said the proposal, if implemented, would enable the state governments to manage inmates imprisoned for committing state offences, while the Federal Government would continue to manage inmates that committed federal offences.
He said, “In a recent event with the state heads of Courts and Attorneys-General, I had mentioned that in order to put in place enduring measures for effective management of Correctional Centres for the reformation, rehabilitation and reintegration of offenders back to the society, the decentralisation of Correctional Service in the Country has been proposed.
“This will allow states to effectively participate through the setting up of their own Correctional Centres to manage offenders who commit state offences while the Federal Government will continue to manage offenders who commit federal offences.
“These are all measures expected to address the problem of congestion in the Correctional Centres as witnessed presently.”
He also said over 7,000 inmates had been released from Correctional Centres in the country in the wake of the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic.
He said, “As part of measures to decongest the Custodial Centres nationwide in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and the dangers posed to the centres, the Committee in collaboration with the Presidential Advisory Committee on Prerogative of Mercy, Federal Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Interior, State Executives and other relevant stakeholders, have been able to release over 7000 inmates.”
He said the releases were carried out in line with specific guidelines approved by the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd) “in view of national security and public interest”.