In a concerning revelation, the Nigerian Correctional Service (NCS) has disclosed that due to the refusal of state Governors to sign death warrants, approximately 5,000 inmates who are supposed to face the death penalty by hanging are still occupying space in correctional facilities.
This revelation was made by the Controller-General of the Correctional Service, Haliru Nababa, during a recent event organized by the Public and Private Development Centre (PPDC) focused on access to justice and the launch of two critical projects: “Court Administration and Case Management” and “Reforming Pre-trial Detention in Nigeria Phase II.”
The controller-general expressed his deep concern over the state of congestion within the correctional centers, where a significant number of inmates remain in custody without their sentences being carried out.
Out of the more than 80,000 inmates across various correctional facilities in Nigeria, a staggering 50,000 are still awaiting trial, contributing to the overcrowding issue.
Haliru Nababa stated, “As of today, we have about 80,000 inmates. 50,000 are awaiting trial while about 5,000 are awaiting death sentences. We are happy because you are discussing congestion.
We see about 20 inmates being hosted in a room instead of 5. Access to justice is still a problem. We are happy because you people are here to reduce congestion.”
He praised the efforts of the PPDC, which is set to provide legal support to approximately 1,700 detainees annually.
This support is expected to play a crucial role in alleviating the severe congestion within the correctional centers.
One of the most alarming aspects of this situation is the prolonged stay of some inmates on death row.
Many individuals sentenced to death by hanging have spent 10, 15, or even 20 years in custody without their death sentences being signed by the respective state Governors.
In light of this, the controller-general appealed to stakeholders from the different states to utilize their attorneys general and influence their state Governors to expedite the signing of death warrants or alternatively, commute the sentences to imprisonment.
This action is deemed necessary to ensure that those inmates who have already served years of their sentence are not left in indefinite legal limbo and can be released.
The issue of delayed death warrant signatures is causing a humanitarian crisis within Nigerian correctional facilities, and urgent action is required to address this longstanding problem.
The call to alleviate the congestion and deliver justice to these inmates is more crucial than ever.
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