According to reports reaching Oyogist.com, the Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola, on Friday, urged state governors to sign the death warrants of the 3,008 condemned criminals waiting for execution.
He emphasized on those whose appeals had been exhausted and were not mounting challenges to their convictions, as part of measures to decongest prisons nationwide.
Aregbesola, who spoke at the inaugurating of the Osun State Command headquarters complex of the Nigeria Correctional Service in Osogbo, stressed the need to bring to closure the cases involving the inmates.
The minister enumerated three avenues to decongest prisons, saying governors could accelerate the wheel of justice, as many inmates had been in custody for a period longer than the maximum sentence their alleged offences carry, which he described as miscarriage of justice.
“There are presently 3,008 condemned criminals waiting for their date with the executioners in our meagre custodial facilities.” Aregbesola asserted.
The minister disclosed that the entire national custodial facilities have maximum capacity for 57,278 inmates, but the current count, a total population of 68,747 inmates, made up of 67,422 males and 1,325 females inmates are housed across the country which is above the capacity by 18 per cent.
“But I must add that the congestion is an urban phenomenon limited to big cities like Lagos, Kano, Port Harcourt and others. There are facilities in non-urban areas that are underpopulated.
“It is in the urban areas that most of the crimes are committed and relevant courts are located, leading to the overstretching of the custodial facilities located in such cities.” Aregbesola noted.
Giving the clear status of inmates in the correctional centres across the country, Aregbsola noted that 50,992 inmates, representing 74 per cent of the total population of inmates in are awaiting trial, while only 17,755 inmates which is mere 26 per cent are actual convicts.
“The challenges of safe and effective custody at the custodial centres come therefore from the awaiting trial inmates, given their numerical strength.
The Minister, However, asked for the cooperation of state governments in addressing custodial centre congestion challenge saying, the overwhelming majority of offenders are state offenders being tried by their respective State Governments.
“The State Governments can therefore do three things. The first is to accelerate the wheel of justice. The second way the states can share in the burden of decongesting custodial facilities is to join in building holding centres.
“The third way is for State Governors to summon the will to do the needful on death row convicts.
There are presently 3,008 condemned criminals waiting for their date with the executioners in our meagre custodial facilities.” he concluded.