CJN tasks Judges on accelerated hearing of criminal cases …laments high volume of awaiting trial cases  …makes case for conditional or unconditional release of detainees from 6 years upward

Tola Adenekan


The Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Ibrahim Muhammad, has directed all Chief Judges both at the federal and state levels to take urgent measures toward speedy trial of cases and decongestion of prisons across the country.

The directive was contained in a circular dated 15th May, 2020.

Justice Muhammad who doubles as the Chairman of the National Judicial Council (NJC), also directed the Chief Judges to ensure that criminal cases were speedily attended to, while they are also required to visit prisons within their jurisdictions.

While expressing regrets over the large number of awaiting trial inmates in prisons, he explained that the directive became imperative for the Judges to embark on immediate visit to all custodial/correctional centers within their respective States to identify and release deserving inmates, where that has not been done already.

According to the CJN, this move is imperative as physical distancing and self-isolation in such confined places as the prison is impossible.

Justice Muhammad also admonished the Judges on the need to consider the conditional or unconditional release of Awaiting Trial Persons who have spent six years or more in custody, ATPs who have no confirmed criminal cases against them, aged inmates and those that are terminally ill.