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By Omeiza Ajayi (with agency reports) – Abuja

Controller General of the Nigeria Correctional Service (NCoS), Ja’afaru Ahmed, has hailed steps taken by the Federal Government to decongest custodial centres, stating that over 21,000 people who were convicted for violating the Covid-19 protocol in the Federal Capital Territory FCT were sentenced to community service.

Ahmed who disclosed this during the decoration of newly-promoted Assistant Controller Generals ACGs and Controller of Corrections CCs on Monday in Abuja said the convicts would otherwise have been added to the inmates’ population were it not for the deliberate steps taken to decongest the custodial centres.

He said; “Steps are being taken by the government to look at those awaiting trial persons and those in jail as this would help in decongesting the correctional service.

“Within the Lockdown, those who violated the Lockdown order by the FG were over 21,000 in FCT alone. They had to do some level of community service within the FCT itself.

“This ordinarily, would have been people that would have been sent into custody for violating the lockdown order but were sentenced to community service to decongest the centres.

“This has also helped reduce the number of inmates in custodial centres in FCT as those ones were not added to them rather they were sent for community services,” he said.

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According to him, the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, also sent letters to various state governors to ensure that state committees on the prerogative of mercy continue to sit and to look at deserving inmates that were due to be released.

“We have also sent list of inmates awaiting trials that have spent 5 years and above to the Minister of Justice and I am sure they have transmitted that to their respective states for them to attend to them.

“So, it is an ongoing process and we hope that with the full implementation of the NCoS Act 2019, especially the non-custodial service, we will see a reduced number of inmates because the issue of probation and parole may come into being.

“That is, we will look at certain categories of inmates that were convicted to provide them with the opportunity of parole to complete their sentences outside the custodian centres.

“I am sure the court would begin to implement the issue of probation and that means people will no longer be sent to our custodial centres for keep but will go to their homes under certain conditions”, he said.

Vanguard News Nigeria.

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