The Federal Government said it is considering state pardon for inmates through prerogative of mercy, with a view to decongesting prisons.
Interior Minister Abdulrahman Dambazzau told State House correspondents that this was considered yesterday at the Federal Executive Council meeting.
He listed other options being considered as conversion of death sentence to life imprisonment for those who had spent over 10 years in prison, “and those who have been there as lifers that have served 10 years and above can have some relief.”
The minister stated: “The council looked at the situation in Nigerian prisons, including the conditions of inmates and the state of the prisons themselves. This came out as a result of council’s directive a few weeks back.
“The major problem is terms of congestion is the issue of awaiting trials of inmates. Today, about 70 percent of awaiting trials constitute the prison inmates, 30 percent of them are convicted. So, this is the situation. It gives a lot of stretch to the prisons system in terms of rehabilitation, feeding and providing other essential amenities. It also makes the general administration extremely difficult.
“So, we made some suggestions as to how these problems can be tackled. About 200 of those inmates awaiting trials have been in prison for over 11 years. Quite a number of them have been in prison for about five to 10 years.”