As part of efforts to reduce the number of people in the prisons in Nigeria, the Federal government yesterday called on all state governors to sign the death warrant of prisoners in their state that are currently on death row.
Some governors have for religious and personal beliefs, refused to sign the death warrants of convicted murderers in their various prisons.
Speaking to state house correspondents after the meeting, Ebonyi state governor, Dave Umahi, said
“In our NEC meeting today, the Minister of Interior (Abdulram Danbazzau) and the CG of Prisons came to brief us about the status of our prisons and the inmates through out the country. The situation painted by the Minister and the CG of Prisons was pathetic and some of them gave graphic examples of what is happening in our prisons up to the states. For example last few months, we had a jail break in my state and to true confession, that was the first time I visited prison. What I saw was a very terrible situation that shouldn’t be allowed and that is how it has been through out the country in all the states. Some of us on our own developed some initiatives. Some have succeeded in the states from transferring the prisons from the urban centre outside the city centre. Some are providing medical services, some are building new prisons.
And so NEC considered all the submissions and came up with an agreement that the governors should assist the Federal Government in partnership to rehabilitate the prisons. And it was also agreed that the states that have the capacity to build prisons should go ahead including private sectors participation. And of course the minister made it very clear that over 70 percent of inmates are awaiting trial. The Minister did point out that they are beginning to do some farming in prisons and purchase some agric equipment which means that some of these prisoners that are available and could move freely could be engaged in agricultural programmes. This was agreed. The governors were also advised to do a number things to decongest the prisons. For example the Chief Judges of various states should do a more frequent visits to the prisons. They have constitutional role to perform during such visits. The governors on their own from time to time should also be able to visit. On the condemned criminals, the governors and NEC agreed that the governors should either sign their death sentences or commit them as they would wish because they will also serve as a risk if judgement has been delivered and no appeal is pending and the governors are not taking action on that. On the whole, NEC viewed that there should be emergency situations in terms of our prisons so that these people that are supposed to be reformed right there should not be further hardened”