Group urges FG to free all unsentenced prisoners in Nigeria

Group urges FG to free all unsentenced prisoners in Nigeria

- A group has called on the federal government to free all unsentenced prisoners in Nigeria

- Foundation for Peace Professionals also known as PeacePro, said it is time to forgive those in detention if they have indeed committed any crime

- The organisation called on the president and minister of justice to address the issue

A Non-Governmental Organisation, Foundation for Peace Professionals also known as PeacePro, has called on the federal government of Nigeria to free all unsentenced prisoners in Nigeria.

The organization stated that setting free suspects, who have been held in detention without justice, is far more honourable than keeping innocent people perpetually in prison.

In a statement by Abdulrazaq Hamzat, an Executive Director of PeacePro on Friday, January 24, the organisation announced its advocacy to end what it described as "destructive incarceration" in the country.

PeacePro urges FG to free all unsentenced prisoners in Nigeria

PeacePro called on the Attorney-General of the Federation to address the issue. Photo source: Twitter
Source: UGC

According to him, the advocacy to end "destructive incarceration" in Nigeria is part of its recommendations in the upcoming edition of Nigeria Peace Index (NPI), a national replica of the renown Global Peace Index research.

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He said data from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) had shown that over 72% of people in prison cells or correctional facilities across Nigeria are unsentenced prisoners, some of whom had spent over 10 years in prison, for a crime that if convicted, they would probably spend fewer years in jail.

He noted that while PeacePro recognises the numerous efforts of government aimed at correcting the concern, government efforts to address the culture of "destructive incarceration" have yielded little result, adding that it is time to forgive those in detention if they have indeed committed any crime.

Hamzat explained that some people might argue that freeing suspected criminals in a country currently battling different kinds of insecurity challenges may be dangerous.

He, however, argued that imprisoning innocent people is even far more dangerous because it is a worse form of injustice.

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“This is why the law prefers to release 99 suspects than jail 1 innocent person,” he said.

“In a country like Nigeria, where Niger Delta militants, who waged armed war against the nation are pardoned, where bandits who kidnapped and killed many are forgiven and where repentant Boko Haram members, whose comrades are still at war with the nation are accommodated, certainly, seeking forgiveness for suspects of petty crimes, who have been held in detention for a long period should not be out of place.

“We, therefore, call on the president of Nigeria and Attorney-General of the federation to look into this proposal and calling on all people of goodwill to support the initiative,” he added.

Recall that in December 2019, President Muhammadu Buhari, through the committee of correctional service decongestion reforms attached to his office, freed 19 prisoners in the Kuje Medium Security Correctional Centre, FCT Abuja.

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Two of the inmates released by the presidency are a 75-year-old man and his son who have both spent 13 years in prison while awaiting trial.

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