The Federal Government has ordered the release of 4,068 inmates sentenced to various terms of imprisonment in Correctional Facilities across the country.
Minister of Interior, Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo, flagged off the symbolic release of the inmates serving different terms of imprisonment in lieu of fines or compensation, at the Medium Security Custodial Centre, Kuje, Abuja, on Saturday.
He said the aim was to decongest custodial centres across the country and make them humane for proper reformation and rehabilitation of offenders to take place.
Tunji-Ojo lamented that as of Friday, November 17, 2023, there were about 80,804 inmates in 253 custodial facilities nationwide, and the total installed capacity for the 253 custodial centres adds up to less than 50,000.
He said the Medium Security Custodial Centre, Kuje, where 37 of the beneficiary inmates were released, has the installed capacity to hold 560 inmates, but currently, a total of 730 inmates are being held there. He added that out of the 730 inmates, 565 of them are awaiting trial.
He added; “Today, we flagged off the release of a total of 4,068 inmates who are serving different terms of imprisonment in lieu of fines or compensation.
“Hence, all inmates in custodial centres who have fines or compensation not exceeding one million naira are qualified and would benefit from this gesture.
“In addition, we are also providing each of them a stipend to enable them to return to their communities”.
Tunde-Ojo disclosed that the Federal Government ensured that the beneficiary inmates were given requisite training aimed at impacting their lives functionally and equipping them with the knowledge for their self-reliance upon discharge, stressing that the government was not just releasing them to their fates.
“In line with President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s mantra of renewed hope, the benefiting inmates have been given a second opportunity to get back on track and contribute to the ongoing development of our dear nation.
It is said that no one truly knows a nation until one has been inside its custodial facilities,” he said.
The Controller General of Corrections, Haliru Nababa, said overcrowding of inmates has been a perennial challenge faced by the NCoS, noting that the federal government gesture would go a long way to decongest the custodial centres across the country.
Nababa listed plumbing, building construction, soap-making, artwork, carpentry, fishery, poultry, and tailoring, among others, as some of the skills acquired by the inmates while in the facility, adding that it would enable them to reintegrate effectively into society.
One of the beneficiaries, who identified simply as Sunday from Anambra State, expressed thanks to the Minister. He said he has been incarcerated for about 15 months since he was sentenced to two years imprisonment with the option of a N500,000 fine.
“I thank the Minister for what he has done to free us. I can assure him and the President that we will not go back to committing crimes any more. All of us are happy today,” Sunday said.