The federal government says it is freeing 2,600 inmates in various prisons to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
Rauf Aregbesola, minister of interior, announced that the government has decided to grant amnesty to the inmates at a press conference in Abuja on Thursday. He said said among those to be freed include sick and old inmates.
Aregbesola said the affected inmates include those: 60 years and above, suffering from ill-health likely to end in death, serving at least three years and have less than six months to serve, with mental issues, and with options of fine not exceeding N50,000.
He said 41 affected federal inmates and 29 others in the federal capital territory (FCT) totaling 70 will be released on Wednesday from the Kuje Correctional Centre in Abuja.
“This amnesty will not apply to inmates sentenced for violent extreme offences such as terrorism, kidnapping, armed banditry, rape, human trafficking, culpable homicide and so on,” he added.
He said governors of the 36 states under whose jurisdiction most of the inmates were incarcerated will complete the exercise “in line with the federal principle”.
The amnesty comes on the heels of calls by various groups including Amnesty International (AI) on the government to decongest the prisons amid the coronavirus pandemic.
“Prisoners and detainees at police and military facilities across Nigeria are at risk of contracting COVID-19 as they are held in overcrowded and unhygienic conditions that can be even more deadly in the hot weather,” Osai Ojigho, AI director in Nigeria, had said.