The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) has supported the call by Minister of Internal Affairs, Mr Rauf Aregbesola for decongestion of Correctional Centres to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
MURIC Director, Prof. Ishaq Akintola, who expressed the support in a statement in Lagos on Saturday, said that inmates were human beings with right to live.
“Inmates of Correctional Centres are complete human beings and Allah gave them fundamental human rights. They have the right to live, except those that have been condemned to death.
“Therefore, the Federal Government has no moral right to keep them in Correctional Centres where they are gravely exposed to Coronavirus.
“With the threat of COVID-19, the federal government will be running foul of Section 33 (1) of the 1999 Constitution, which guarantees right to life if it fails to free inmates who have not been sentenced to death,” he said.
Akintola, who mentioned the case of the 54 soldiers serving jail terms, said there had been series of appeals to the President and the Senate for intervention.
“We have made several appeals on the issue of the 54 soldiers to President Muhammadu Buhari, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and even the Minister of Internal Affairs.
“Last month, we sent a petition to the National Assembly for the intervention of our lawmakers. We are still waiting for them to act on the petition.
“The interest shown by Aregbesola raises our hope. Inmates do not deserve to die like chicken inside Correctional Centres over this marauding virus, COVID-19.
“We urge governors, chief judges, etc to pay urgent visits to Correctional Centres with a view to releasing inmates in large numbers before this virus invades their poorly equipped abodes,” he said.
He appealed to Buhari to exercise his prerogative of mercy to free all Nigerian prisoners except those with murder cases and on death row.
“Nigeria has 74,927 inmates in 244 centres spread around the country. They are Nigerians and they have the right to live.
“COVID-19 is death sentence for them because they have little or no access to testing equipment or any form of medication,” he said. (NAN)