COVID-19: Former lawmaker calls for release of petty offenders

COVID-19: Former lawmaker calls for release of petty offenders

- A former lawmaker has called for the decongestion of correctional centres across states in Nigeria

- The former House of Representatives member said vulnerable inmates including women, children and the aged should be freed

- Kurfi said at a time when Nigeria is battling with rising cases of COVID-19, the centres cannot be crowded in contradiction to the social distancing measures listed by WHO and health experts

Following the rising number of confirmed Coronavirus (COVID-19) cases in Nigeria, a former lawmaker has called on the Federal Government of Nigeria to release inmates who have committed petty offence and serving at the Nigerian Correctional Centres across the country.

Danlami Kurfi, a former lawmaker who represented Dutsinma/Kurfi federal constituency at the eighth House of Representatives said those who have cases that can be referred to a "small offences" should be released due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Speaking to Legit.ng on Tuesday, March 31, Kurfi said the government at the state and federal level must take drastic measures to ensure a break in the spread of the deadly coronavirus disease across states of the country.

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Kurfi said at a time when Nigeria is battling with rising cases of COVID-19, it is important that the already overcrowded correctional centres are decongested.

According to the former lawmaker, vulnerable inmates including women, children and the aged should be freed.

"Women, boys, aged and those with fewer years to serve in their sentences should be allowed to go home," Kurfi said.

He also urged the federal and state governments to review sentences of inmates especially those with fewer years or months to spend.

COVID-19: Former lawmaker calls for release pof petty offenders

Kurfi said at a time when Nigeria is battling with rising cases of COVID-19, it is important that the already overcrowded correctional centres are decongested.
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"Those who have stolen big monies from the people are outside with their families enjoying their freedom while the ones that have committed petty crimes like streaming of goats, N1,000 - which was probably because of hunger - are languishing in our correctional centres," Kurfi added.

He said it is important for the federal government and the state governors to note that Nigeria is in a critical condition and with the World Health Organisation's advise on social distancing, the correctional centres need to be decongested.

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Meanwhile, Legit.ng previously reported that the Akwa Ibom state governor, Emmanuel Udom, had directed that a task force for containment of the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic in the state be trained.

The governor said the taskforce will be equipped to undertake the critical task of preventing and containing the diseases ahead of the week-long lockdown announced by the state government.

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Also, a civil rights group had earlier urged the Federal Government, the judiciary and the lawmakers to put an end to the criminalisation of petty offences in Nigeria.

The Prisoners Rehabilitation and Welfare Action (PRAWA) called alternatives punitive measures for petty offenders should be utilised by the judiciary.

The organisation in partnership with the Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA) outlined the need for the decriminalisation of petty offences in Nigeria.

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