Minister of Interior, Dr. Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo, revealed that a total of 4,068 inmates have been released from correctional centres nationwide in an effort to alleviate overcrowding, emphasizing this during an event at the Kuje Medium Correctional Centre where 37 inmates were freed.
These individuals had been unable to settle fines following their court convictions. The release aims to ease congestion, making the facilities more conducive for the reformation and rehabilitation of offenders.
As of yesterday, there were approximately 80,804 inmates across 253 custodial facilities nationwide, exceeding the installed capacity of these centers, which totals less than 50,000. This overcrowding prompted the initiative witnessed today to address the challenge of congestion, crucial for the centers’ reformatory role.
The decongestion project involves contributions from the Federal Government, individuals, groups, and corporate entities. A sum of N585 million was raised to facilitate the release of financially challenged inmates who owe fines or compensations not exceeding N1 million.
The minister stressed that the released individuals underwent necessary training aimed at imparting functional skills, fostering self-reliance upon discharge, and reintegrating them into society. This training covers civic responsibilities and strategies for avoiding re-offending.
Aligned with President Bola Tinubu’s administration’s Renewed Hope Agenda, this initiative seeks to transform custodial and non-custodial facilities to meet international human rights standards and effective correctional practices.
Tunji-Ojo commended the Nigerian Correctional Service (NCOs) for ensuring safe custody and contributing to national security by detaining offenders, safeguarding society.
The federal government pledged support to enhance the service’s efficiency, particularly in enhancing staff and inmates’ welfare. He expressed gratitude to stakeholders involved in facilitating this commendable effort, emphasizing the importance of every Nigerian in promoting the proper reformation, rehabilitation, and reintegration of offenders into their communities.