President Muhammadu Buhari has pardoned 2,600 prisoners nationwide.
Seventy of those pardoned are in Kuje Custodial Centre in Abuja, said Interior Minister Rauf Aregbesola.
They were made up of 41 Federal inmates and 29 FCT inmates.
Five former inmates were also granted presidential pardon.
The pardon does not apply to inmates sentenced for violent extreme offences such as terrorism, kidnapping, armed banditry, rape, human trafficking, culpable homicide and so on.
The Governors of the 36 states under whose jurisdiction most of the inmates are incarcerated will complete the exercise in line with the federal principle.
“After the release of the first phase, the amnesty committee will continue to meet regularly to consider those who deserve the benefit,” he said.
Minister of Justice, Mr Abubakar Malami, said that the UN has advised Member States to reduce the number of inmates in custodial centres in view of the social distancing policy aimed at containing the spread of Coronavirus.
He described the launch of the 2020 presidential pardon as historic, adding that the process of selecting beneficiaries started in 2018.
He warned the beneficiaries to desist from crimes, urging the community to receive them without stigmatisation.
He lamented that 70 per cent of inmates in Nigeria’s Correctional Centres were awaiting trial.
The Controller-General of NCoS, Mr Ja’afaru Ahmed, said that so far the service had not recorded any case of Covid-19.
He said that the exercise would go a long way in reducing the number of inmates in the service nationwide.
As at 6 April 2020, there are 73,756 inmates in Nigerian Custodial Centres.
Out of the number, 21,773 are convicts, while 51,983 are Awaiting Trial persons(ATPs).