The Federal Government has expressed its readiness to partner with relevant stakeholders to decongest correctional facilities in Nigeria.
The Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola made the disclosure during a round-table conversation with Prisoner Rehabilitation And Welfare Action (PRAWA) and representatives of donors participating development agencies, on Wednesday, in Abuja.
READ: Interior Minister, Aregbesola Writes Governors Over Decongestion Of Correctional Facilities
Aregbesola said correctional centres in the country are highly congested with inmates awaiting trial, those on death roll, those unable to pay debt and fines and some on minor offences.
According to the minister, the people in jail houses as first offenders are less than 20%. He noted that: “Correctional Service has no power over inmates. Whoever the Judiciary ask them to keep, they keep,” adding that: “Our role is for safe custody of the inmates and also to advise the government.”
Aregbesola while appreciating the stakeholders for their support, implored them to collaborate with the Federal Government by contributing not only financially but technically and intellectually in order to decongest the custodial centers.
He said most of the inmates currently in custody are inmates who committed state offences which the President has no right to release, revealing that the President has approved a bill that moves Correctional Service to concurrent list.
In his opening remark the Permanent Secretary, Dr. Shuaib Belgore represented by Director Legal Services, commended the Minister for his passion and efforts in the decongestion of custodial facilities in the country, which would be his legacy after his tenure.
The Controller General of Nigeria Correctional Service, Halliru Nababa, who was represented, reported that the number of inmates in custodial facilities all over the country is far above the number of facilities available.
He disclosed that the custodial facility in Port Harcourt which is supposed to accommodate 800 inmates presently has over 4,000 inmates, stating that Correctional Service is ready and will appreciate any support to help decongest the custodial centers.
Present at the event are Directors from the Ministry, PRAWA, and representatives of donors participating agencies.