Gov. Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State, on Wednesday, ordered the release of 30 prisoners from the Ado-Ekiti Correctional Centre as part of efforts to curtail the spread of the coronavirus.
The State Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Olawale Fapohunda, announced the governor’s order to newsmen in Ado-Ekiti.
According to Fapohunda, the governor also declared the released prisoners as vulnerable persons, who are entitled to receive COVID-19 palliatives from the state government.
The step, according to the government, is part of measures to further curb the spread of COVID-19 in the state.
“The governor, out of kindness, directed that the released individuals should immediately be listed as vulnerable persons on the database of beneficiaries of the Ekiti State COVID-19 palliative programme.
“By this, life will not be miserable to them in freedom,’’ the commissioner said.
He explained that the release of the prisoners was in recognition of the danger inherent in the spread of COVID-19 in the correctional facility.
Fapohunda said that the exercise will be a continuous one until the population of inmates is reduced to manageable numbers.
He said that the beneficiaries were subjected to rigorous screening before their eventual release.
“The Ekiti State Advisory Council on Prerogative of Mercy, on the instruction of the governor, met on last week to consider applications for clemency from 45 prisoners in the Ado-Ekiti Correctional Centre.
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“The council considered these applications on merit, and recommended 30 inmates for release.
“The four categories of prisoners considered are; persons held in pre-trial detention, particularly those for minor or low-risk offenses and women with children on pre-trial detention or convicted for non-serious offenses with less than 18 months to serve their sentences.
“Others are those referred to as “at-risk inmates” such as elderly prisoners or those with underlying life-threatening health issues as well as inmates convicted for minor, low risk of offenses, particularly those who have 18 months or less remaining of their sentence to serve’’.
On the fate of the large population of pretrial detainees in the correctional centre whose trials had been affected by the COVID-19 lockdown, Fapohunda said he was in consultation with the leadership of the three branches on the Nigerian Bar Association in the state, on the possibility of using technology to facilitate their trials.