The Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Ibrahim Muhammad, has asked all Chief Judges both at the federal and state levels to take urgent measures towards the speedy trial of cases and decongestion of prisons across the country, as Nigeria still battles increasing Coronavirus cases.
In a circular issued today May 15, Justice Muhammad in his capacity as the Chairman of the National Judicial Council (NJC), directed the Chief Judges to ensure that criminal cases were speedily attended to, while they are also required to visit prisons within their jurisdictions.
The CJN, who regretted the large number of awaiting trial inmates in prisons, said it has become imperative for the judges to embark on immediate visit to all custodial/correctional centers within their respective states to identify and release deserving inmates, where that has not been done already.
According to the CJN, this move is imperative as physical distancing and self-isolation in such confined places as the prison is impossible.
Part of the statement reads
From available records, population at various custodial centers across the country presently stands at about 74, 127 out of which 52, 226 are Awaiting Trial Persons (ATPs). Most of these custodial centers are presently housing inmates beyond their capacities”
He asked the judges to consider the conditional or unconditional release of Awaiting Trial Persons who have spent six years or more in custody, ATPs who have no confirmed criminal cases against them, aged inmates and those that are terminally ill.