Afghanistan To Release Up To 10,000 Prisoners Over Coronavirus


Afghanistan has ordered the release of up to 10,000 prisoners — mostly women, juveniles and sick people — in a bid to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus, officials said Thursday.

The move comes after an increase in local COVID-19 cases and as tens of thousands of Afghans return from neighbouring Iran, one of the countries hit hardest by the pandemic.

President Ashraf Ghani’s decree was directed at women, young offenders, critically ill patients and inmates aged over 55, said Attorney General Farid Hamidi.

“This is a responsible decision to safeguard the health of the people,” Hamidi told a news conference.

“The decree is not for those who have committed crimes against national and international security.”

Prisons chief Ahmad Rashed Totakhail said between 9,000 and 10,000 inmates would be released over the coming 10 days.

UN rights chief Michelle Bachelet has urged countries to protect people held in overcrowded prisons and other enclosed facilities by releasing vulnerable detainees, saying COVID-19 “risks rampaging through such institutions”.

READ ALSO: COVID-19 Forcing Parents To Skip Kids’ Vaccinations – UNICEF

Sudan and Ethiopia have recently ordered the release of thousands of prisoners in an effort to slow their own outbreaks.

Afghanistan has officially recorded two deaths and 80 cases of coronavirus, but the true figure is feared to be many times higher as the war-torn country struggles to administer tests and screen the influx of people returning from Iran.

The upcoming prisoner release is unrelated to a prisoner exchange the Kabul government is currently negotiating with the Taliban as part of an effort to start peace talks.


16 Inmates Die In Mexico Prison Fight


A prison riot left 16 inmates dead and five wounded in the central Mexican state of Zacatecas on New Year’s Eve, local authorities said Wednesday.

Prisoners fought each other using handguns and knives, which were seized after the fight, the Public Security Ministry said.

“On Tuesday afternoon a fight occurred inside the Regional Center for Social Reinsertion which left a toll of 16 inmates dead, as well as five more wounded,” the ministry said in a statement.

READ ALSO: Air Raid Kills Three In Libya

Authorities later arrested a prisoner with a firearm and “three other handguns were found, as well as knives, with which the homicides were allegedly perpetrated,” it said.

The prison in the town of Cieneguillas and another in the nearby town of Fresnillo had been searched just last weekend, the authorities said.

Frequent disturbances in Mexican prisons have been blamed on overcrowding and the presence of organized crime gangs.

A prison riot in October in the central state of Morelos left six dead, including the head of the powerful Jalisco New Generation cartel.


Afghanistan Announces Delay In Taliban-For-Hostages Exchange


The exchange of three senior Taliban prisoners for two foreign hostages announced by Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has been delayed, a spokesman said Saturday.

The Taliban prisoners “are still being held by the Afghan government. The inability of the Taliban to meet the conditions has caused a delay in the exchange,” Ghani’s spokesman Sediq Sediqqi wrote on Twitter.

The government “will review the exchange process in light of Afghanistan’s national interests,” he said, without providing further details.

Ghani announced the exchange on Tuesday, saying the Taliban prisoners held at Bagram prison would be “conditionally” released.

They include Anas Haqqani, who was seized in 2014 and whose older brother is the deputy Taliban leader and head of the Haqqani network, a notorious Taliban affiliate.

The two foreign hostages — American Kevin King and Australian Timothy Weeks — were kidnapped by gunmen wearing military uniforms in Kabul in August 2016.

Ghani said that “their health has been deteriorating while in the custody of the terrorists”.

He added that the release of the two men, both professors, would “pave the way” for the start of unofficial direct talks between his government and the Taliban, who long have refused to negotiate with Ghani’s administration.

Niger Governor Releases 13 Prisoners


The Niger State Governor, Abubakar Bello, has released 13 prisoners in the state.

Governor Bello made the announcement on Saturday at the 2nd General Abdulsalami Abubakar Foundation Annual Peace Lecture.

He said their release is part of a negotiation deal with a group of bandits that have agreed to broker peace with the state government.

READ ALSO: Insecurity: Military Intervention Unnecessary Unless Dialogue Fails – Niger Governor

The governor advocated the engagement of traditional rulers, especially village and district heads in peacebuilding and conflict resolution process as they are closest to the grassroots.

He identified population explosion and lack of clear cut grazing routes as catalysts for most of the security challenges in the country, as reflected in the clashes between farmers and herders

He urged the ex-convicts to desist from acts capable of disrupting the peace and progress of the country.




HRW Accuses Cameroon Of Torturing Over 100 Prisoners


Cameroonian authorities detained and tortured more than 100 prisoners, including suspected members of the country’s anglophone separatist movement, after a jail riot last month, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said Tuesday.

The prisoners were taken to a military detention facility the morning after rioting broke out in the Central Prison in the capital Yaounde on July 22, the rights group said.

They were held incommunicado, beaten by gendarmes and guards and interrogated at gunpoint, it said, citing interviews with 14 detainees and several lawyers.

“The gendarmes put a piece of cloth on my nose and beat me. I was tortured like this, beaten badly several times on my legs and back,” HRW said, quoting a 37-year-old man from the city of Bamenda.

The rioting in Central Prison had been sparked by anger at overcrowding, living conditions and delays in bringing detainees’ cases to court, HRW said.

Many of those held there were suspected anglophone rebels, whose movement has declared a separate state for English-speaking rebels in the majority francophone country, its report said.

Nearly 2,000 people have been killed in violence between separatists and security forces in the anglophone regions since October 2017, according to an independent toll.

Others at the Central Prison were members of the opposition party, the Cameroon Renaissance Movement (MRC), according to HRW.

According to HRW, “at least 100” were taken to a facility called the State Defence Secretariat (SED), where the abuse occurred. They were held between July 23 and August 4, it said.

On August 3, the government said that 244 prisoners had been held in connection with the unrest.

Communication Minister Emmanuel Sadi said detainees were being held “in line with legal procedure, with the utmost respect for the law.” Several of them had been found in possession of knives, he maintained.


Yobe Governor Pardons Five Prisoners

Yobe Govt. Disburses N18.3 Million To Returning IDPs Who Lost Farms

The Yobe State Governor, Mr Ibrahim Gaidam has pardoned five prisoners convicted and jailed for various offences in two prisons across the state.

A statement issued by his media aide, Abdullahi Bego said the state Chief Executive exercised his powers in pursuit of Sections 212 (1) of the 1999 Constitution.

He added that the governor acted based on the counsel given him by the State Advisory Council on the Prerogative of Mercy headed by the Commissioner for Justice, Mr Ahmed Goniri.

“The pardons were granted based on the Prerogative of Mercy powers conferred on the governor by Section 212 (1) of the 1999 Constitution as amended,” Bego said on Sunday.

The pardon, he added was made possible “based on the recommendation of the State Advisory Council on Prerogative of Mercy chaired by the State Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Barrister Ahmed Mustapha Goniri.”

Beneficiaries of the amnesty were: Mohammed Gidado, Adamu Ardo and Jibrin Mohammed all serving at the Potiskum Medium Security Prison.

Others included Kachallah Bukar currently serving at the Gashu’a Prison and Baba Isa serving his term at Potiskum Medium Security Prison.

The repentant prisoners are to be freed with immediate effect, according to the statement issued by the governor’s aide.

500 Inmates Regain Freedom As Buhari Visits Kano

Photo Credit: Bashir Ahmed, Personal Assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari on New Media


President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday attended a ceremony in Kurmawa Central Prison Kano where 500 prisoners regained freedom.

According to a statement issued by his spokesman, Mr Garba Shehu, the inmates were either pardoned or set free upon the payment of fines by Kano State Governor, Abdullahi Ganduje.

The President graced the occasion with his presence during his two-day working visit to the state, his first since he was elected in 2015.

READ ALSO: Buhari Arrives Kano On Working Visit

Addressing the freed inmates, he asked them to remain law-abiding and stay away from committing crimes that may likely lead them back to prison.

“I am pleased with this visit and I have learnt a bit more about the conditions of the prisons and inmates. This building in front of us was built since 1910.

“Rehabilitation of prisoners and training of inmates is very important to us and we would continue to invest more on this. I asked one of the inmates (released) how old he was and he told me he is only 19 years old.

“If we have people of 18 and 19 years in the prison, and there is no continuous training, then their lives will be completely destroyed. We will invest more in education and vocational training,” he said.

Kano Central Prison is one of the most congested detention facilities in Nigeria but Governor Abdullahi Ganduje of Kano State says the ongoing renovation of the facility is geared towards decongesting the prison.

Speaking earlier at the Emir’s palace while on a visit to the Emir of Kano, Muhammadu Sanusi, Buhari said, “I know Kano people are aware of the tremendous job we did on security and agriculture.”

He explained that the stability of the north and Nigeria is paramount and he is determined to make Nigeria a peaceful country.

After granting amnesty to the 500 inmates at the state’s central prison, President Buhari also commissioned the Panshekara by Madobi junction Underpass and the CBN Quarters by Hotoro road.

Prisoners Are Doomed Without Training, Says Buhari

Prisoners Are Doomed Without Training, Buhari Laments
File photo

President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday said prisoners across the country are doomed without getting continuous training to help improve their lives.

The President said this at a ceremony in Kurmawa Central Prison, Kano, where 500 inmates were either pardoned or set free.

“If we have people of 18 and 19 years in the prison, and there is no continuous training, then their lives will be completely destroyed.

“We will invest more in education and vocational training,” he said in a statement issued by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Mr Garba Shehu.

President Buhari reaffirmed that prison reforms and decongestion would continue to receive prompt attention and be pursued with greater vigour by his administration.

He, however, lamented that some of the freed inmates were young and asked prison authorities to make every effort to make better citizens of prisoners.

He also emphasised the need for prisoners to receive proper care, support and rehabilitation to make them better citizens after serving their prisons terms.

“I am pleased with this visit and I have learnt a bit more about the conditions of the prisons and inmates. This building in front of us was built since 1910.

“Rehabilitation of prisoners and training of inmates is very important to us and we would continue to invest more on this. I asked one of the inmates (released) how old he was and he told me he is only 19 years old,” he said.

The 500 inmates granted pardon, including men and women, were drawn from various prisons in Kano State, including Kurmawa prisons which has 1,398 inmates as opposed to 750, the established capacity.

The President, who arrived Kano to a tumultuous welcome by the government and people of the state at the start of a two-day state visit, had earlier paid homage to the Emir of Kano, Muhammadu Sanusi II.

At the Emir’s place, he recounted his fond memories of Kano, as a symbol of peace, trade, commerce and industry in Nigeria.

He said: “If there is a problem here, the whole country has a problem. I remember the industry and employment people get in Kano.

“Before the problem in the North East, I remember the number of articulated vehicles that leave this city to Maiduguri and the Cameroons; and the number of vehicles that come in from Chad and Niger, providing millions of jobs to Nigerians.

“A lot of people in Nigeria didn’t realise how much the instability in the North East have cost the people and the industry here.”

To this end, President Buhari assured all Nigerians that the fight against Boko Haram terrorists would be sustained, in addition to the positive trends in the economy and the fight against corruption.

“The three things we said in our campaign on security, economy and fighting corruption; nobody will be able to successfully disabuse the minds of Nigerians on our clear intentions for our country and our people,” he said.

100 Prisoners Escape On Hurricane-Hit British Island

Flooded homes are shown near Lake Houston following Hurricane Harvey August 30, 2017 in Houston, Texas. WIN MCNAMEE / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / AFP

Over 100 high-risk prisoners escaped in the British Virgin Islands during Hurricane Irma, a British junior minister said on Tuesday, as he raised the death toll in British territories to nine.

“We had a serious threat of a complete breakdown of law and order in the British Virgin islands (BVI),” junior foreign minister Alan Duncan told parliament.

“The prison was breached, over 100 very serious prisoners escaped,” he said.

Duncan said Royal Marines were deployed to cope with the threat but did not disclose how many prisoners had been recovered or how many were still at large.

“We have maintained and kept law and order on the BVI, which at one point, could have dramatically threatened the already unfortunate plight of those who had been hit by the hurricane,” he said.

Contacted by AFP, the foreign ministry declined to comment.

The Daily Telegraph said notes from a cabinet meeting that were leaked to the press on Tuesday suggested as many as 60 had yet to be recaptured.

“We are working with St Lucia and BVI authorities to secure the transfer to St Lucia of 40 high-risk prisoners that have escaped in BVI,” the briefing notes were reported as saying.

Duncan said a total of nine people died in British Caribbean territories — five in the BVI and four in Anguilla. The authorities had previously reported one person killed in Anguilla.

Britain’s response to Irma has been criticised by some local inhabitants as too slow with some complaining about a breakdown of law and order and being left to fend for themselves.

Briton Claudia Knight said her partner Leo Whitting, 38, was stranded on the island of Tortola in the British Virgin Islands archipelago.

“Everyone’s turned feral and no-one’s going out without being armed… It’s turning really nasty,” she told the Press Association news agency.

“Leo carries a knife with him,” she said.

But Duncan said he “wholeheartedly and comprehensively reject the criticism”.

“I think they are unjustified,” he added.

Ayade Grants Clemency To Over 30 Prisoners

The Cross River State Governor, Ben Ayade, has granted clemency to over 30 prisoners currently serving jail terms for various offences.

Professor Ayade explained that their release was in the spirit of the celebration of the state’s golden jubilee, which coincides with the Children’s Day celebration.

He used the occasion of Cross River State at 50 to urge the people of the state and residents to join his administration towards ensuring a better future for the state.

A breakdown of the figure showed that five prisoners were on death row, 16 on life sentences, four inmates above 60 years, while nine others were terminally ill.

Ayade Pardons 30 Prisoners as Cross River Celebrates Golden Jubilee

CSOs, Ben Ayade, Man Of The YearThe Governor of Cross River State, Professor Ben Ayade, has granted Clemency to over 30 prisoners currently serving jail terms in the state.

Announcing the decision in a state-wide broadcast in Calabar, the governor maintained that their release is om the spirit of the celebration of the state’s golden jubilee.

The governor who further explained that his decision is based on Section 212 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, which gives him the power to pardon prisoners.
According to him, five of the prisoners are on death row, 16 are serving life sentences, four are above sixty years of age and nine are terminally ill and may likely die if they are not pardoned.

He said the names of the prisoners would be released soon.

Ayade further used the occasion to urge all indigenes of the state and residents alike to join his administration in ensuring a bright future by building upon the legacies of his predecessors.

“As we march into another half a century, let us do so with hope, pride, confidence and optimism that our story tomorrow will be loftier than yesterday’s,” Ayade said.

“Today signifies the beginning of a greater tomorrow. For as we gaze into a new horizon, we see the actualisation of the deepest seaport in Africa, the Bakassi Deep Seaport; we see the realisation of the most digital evacuation corridor, the 275-kilometer superhighway; the crystallisation of the most sophisticated rice seedling centre in Africa and many other ambitious projects that would ultimately alter our narrative as a state.”

According to the governor, the unity and support of the people are vital to the achievement of the goals.

“All we have to do to actualise these lofty goals is stick together, working in harmony with a singularity of purpose,” he said.

“It is, therefore, imperative that we forge a common front in our collective desire to completely rebrand our state.”

Adaka Boro Avengers Oppose Arms Mop Up To End Niger Delta Crisis

Adaka Boro Avengers, Niger Delta, MilitantsMembers of the Adaka Boro Avengers say arms mop up exercise in the Niger Delta without dialogue with the militants will not bring lasting peace in the region.

The spokesman for the group, Edmos Ayayeibo, said in a statement that the militant groups in Nigeria’s south-south region have laid down their arms.

He added that the militants are also prepared to dialogue with the Federal Government, to end the crisis in the region.

Ayayeibo described as insincere, the plans by the military to move into camps to dislodge the militants after they had laid down their arms.

Elder statesman, Chief Edwin Clark, has been nominated by the militants as one of those to represent them on the negotiating table with the government.

President Muhammadu Buhari had disclosed that the Federal Government is also open to dialogue to resolve all contending issues in the Niger Delta region.

He, however, said the government does not believe the militants have announced a ceasefire, saying the government was yet to identify their leaders.

“We do not believe that they (the militants) have announced ceasefire. We are trying to understand them more.

“Who are their leaders and which areas do they operate and other relevant issues,” he asked in Kenya.