Prison Decongestion: Senate Moves To Empower CJN On Monthly Release Of Inmates

The Senate on Wednesday pledged support for a bill that would empower the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) and states chief judges to order the monthly release of prison inmates, unlawfully detained.

The chief judicial officers are expected to act based on the monthly returns of the Comptroller-General (CG) of Prisons on prison inmates in the country.

The senate’s endorsement followed a bill for an Act to amend the criminal justice (release from custody) Act 2004, sponsored by Sen. Babajide Omoworare (ACN-Osun).

The bill, which scaled its second reading, proposed two amendments in Section 3 and Section 2 of the 35-year-old Act.

In his lead debate, Omoworare said the bill would address the nagging issue of prison de-congestion in the country, where 70 per cent of inmates are awaiting trial.

“We are all aware of the various efforts by past governments in the country to tackle this thorny issue to no avail.

“These measures, culminated in the inauguration of an intervention fund of N8.7 billion, under the supervision of the Federal Ministry of Justice in 2006, which fetched no tangible result.’’

Omoworare?explained that the proposed amendments would make?“it mandatory for the CG of Prisons, to timely send monthly returns of the entire inmates of the prison to the CJN and the Chief Judge of the relevant state.

“The Chief Judge shall on the basis of that return, order the release of inmates, who fall into the category covered by the Act,’’ he said.