Kenyan president, Uhuru Kenyatta, yesterday freed 7000 prisoners in the country to decongest the prisons and also to make room for incoming corruption offenders.      
The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) applauds President Kenyatta’s visionary and humanitarian gesture and calls on President Muhammadu Buhari to emulate the Kenyan leader by taking radical steps to decongest Nigeria’s overcrowded prisons.
It is on record that most prisons in Nigeria contain double their capacities. Exempli gratia, Kaduna Central Prison which was built in 1915 with a capacity for 547 inmates now has 954 prisoners, Bauchi prison which was built in 1920 for 500 prisoners only now has 1,041. Nsukka prison which has the capacity for 180 inmates now houses 500 prisoners.
This choking prison environment is mainly responsible for recent jailbreaks in various prisons within the country. At best, it has turned Nigerian prisons into recruitment sergeants for armed robbers. It is not only unhealthy and inhuman but also falls short of international best practices.
MURIC calls on President Buhari to commence the decongestion of Nigerian prisons with immediate effect. We suggest that priority should be given to the 54 soldiers who are currently languishing in jail for refusing to fight Boko Haram insurgents without being adequately armed. It was their refusal that attracted public outcry and exposed the $2.1 billion arms scandal. We believe that these 54 soldiers have suffered enough. Next to the 54 soldiers should come awaiting trial inmates whose offences are trivial and those who have spent one third of their prison terms.
As a parting shot, the Federal Government should not delay this general decongestion as it will create enough space for incoming corrupt politicians, greedy ex-army chiefs and black sheep among the judges.

Professor Ishaq Akintola,
Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC)

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