NEC orders governors to act on 2,359 condemned convicts

NEC orders governors to act on 2,359 condemned convicts
July 19 19:55 2018

By Ahmed Idris

The National Economic Council (NEC), presided over by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, on Thursday directed governors of the 36 states of the federation to act on the 2,359 condemned convicts nationwide as part of measures to decongest prisons in the country.

Addressing State House correspondents at the end of the monthly NEC meeting, Governor Mohammed Abubakar of Bauchi state said the need to decide on the 2,359 condemned convicts became necessary because of the threats they portend to the society.

“The Attorney General of the Federation made a presentation on the vexed issue of prison decongestion. The problems bedeviling prisons in Nigeria is a matter of common knowledge and this presentation have special consideration to condemned prisoners. As at July 18th we have 2,359 condemned convicts nationwide and the threats they present to the prison system is very, very clear.

“Because, these are a set of people who do not have any care in the world, the system has already condemned them and the need to carry out whatever sentence that has been passed by the courts is very very eminent,” he said.

He said the Attorney General proffered the three recommendations to council to which the governors have been directed to act upon.

He said: “That state governors may wish to carry out a review of the cases of condemned convicts within their jurisdiction as enshrined in Section 212 of the 1999 constitution; that the Nigerian Prisons Service review it’s policy on inter-state transfer of prisoners to reduce incidences of prisoners being held outside their states of conviction; and cases of convicts outside the state of conviction maybe forwarded to the governor of the state where they were sentenced for consideration.

“Council noted recommendations and welcome actions by governors. Most of the actions are to be taken by governors because for example, the condemned prisoners it is the governors that have the responsibility of signing the warrant of execution. What usually bedevils this system is the fact that for example, all the prisons in Bauchi do not have facilities for execution of condemned criminals.

“So if a prisoner is sentence to death in Bauchi, he will have to be transferred to Jos prison for execution and when that is done, the two governors of Bauchi and Plateau will have to sign the warrant of execution.

“Usually what happens is that the Plateau state governor will say ‘I don’t know anything about this condemned prisoner, he was not condemned in my state.’ So this is what is causing the congestion and the Attorney General is working on the administration of justice Act with a view to fine tuning it to give some powers to the states so that they can take care of these problems. So, council noted and directed governors to take action.”

Also speaking, Willy Obiano of Anambra state, said the Minister of Environment briefed council on why the country faces flood challenges, stressing that non-distilling areas, poor urban planning and mismanagement of the forest through burning we’re some of the factors identified by the minister.

He said the council agreed to ensure speedy distilling of major tributaries, canals ahead of the flooding session as a short term measure.

Also speaking, the National Economic Adviser, Mr. Adeyemi Dipeolu, said the council deliberated on the experiences, lessons and recommendations related to the national SMSE clinics, stressing that SMSEs continue to face sone challenges such as access to finance and poor infrastructure.

He said it was in that context that the Vice President initiated and conducted a series of SMSEs clinics across the states, to which 17 states have been covered which recorder 300,000 participants across those states.

The council was also briefed on balances in the federation accounts this: Excess Crude Account $1,918,509,918.86, Stabilization Fund Account N18,882,864,216.56 and Natural Resources N133,715,427,387.37.