LAGOS – Following the recommendation of the Advisory Council on the Prerogative of Mercy, Lagos State governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, has signed a release order freeing 209 inmates serving in the various correctional centres across the state.
Sanwo-Olu, who disclosed this while briefing the press on Saturday at the Government House, Marina, Lagos, said this was done to decongest the correctional centres in view of the COVID-19 pandemic.
He added that it was also part of the larger effort to bring a lasting reform to the administration of criminal justice in Nigeria.
The governor said: “The beneficiaries of these releases are some who are over 60-years-old, those who have less than six months to go on their sentencing, those who have served over 95 percent of their sentencing, some who are serving for just minor offences, and some found to be physically or mentally challenged are part of the list of 209 whose release have been signed.”
Also, the governor appealed to residents, who have corpses of their loved ones who died before or during the pandemic, to go ahead and schedule burial ceremonies for them.
“I am constrained to appeal to all Lagosians who have corpses of their loved ones in the mortuaries to go ahead and schedule their funerals,” he advised. He said the only reason the mortuaries had been getting filled up was because funerals had not been held in the last two months or thereabout. He added: “One of the outcomes of the lockdown is that many families and households have had to postpone funeral plans for their loved ones who have passed away before or during this period.” He warned, “if the state is unable to see a decongestion of the mortuaries within the next two weeks, Lagos government will be compelled to seek to have mass burials and we don’t want to force it on anyone, which is why we are asking for the cooperation of all of us. “We will give two weeks, and expect a lot of people to comply after which the state government might have to take other directives or decisions in that manner. “Because of the inability to hold funerals, occasioned by restriction of movements, mortuaries in Lagos State are now getting to the peak and there is a need for us to have a decongestion. “These are not COVID-19 deaths in any form. Mortuaries are getting filled up not because of COVID 19; in Lagos we have recorded 18 deaths,” he said.
The governor, who said that funerals were exempted from the activities in the lockdown restrictions, stated: “You can hold and attend your funerals in Lagos State as long as you comply with the requirements that we have laid out.”
He emphasised that only 20 persons, including the officiating religious leaders, and the deceased’s relatives would be allowed to hold funerals, adding that physical distancing must be maintained at all funeral ceremonies.
“All attendees or mourners must wear face masks, and must ensure they wash their hands before or after the ceremonies.
There must not be any form of parties or reception that will accompany the final ceremonies. “As long as you keep to these directives and fully comply with them, funerals will be allowed and encouraged to take place immediately.”