The Prisoners Rehabilitation and Welfare Action (PRAWA) has secured the release of 25 inmates across five custodial facilities in four states through payment of their fines.
The Executive Director, PRAWA, Dr Uju Agomoh, said this in a statement made available on Friday in Abuja.
Osun Defender gathered that the Fine4Inmates project was an initiative of the Ministry of Interior under the leadership of the former Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola, in partnership with PRAWA.
The project was implemented in response to the congestion issue identified as a significant challenge of custodial centers at a high-level workshop and conference on Decongestion and Reforms in Corrections Administration organised by the Ministry and PRAWA in May 2023.
Agomoh said Fine4Inmates Project had the core objective of reducing congestion in custodial centers across Nigeria through the payment of fines to inmates with the option of fines.
She said the project also focused on the core issues of rehabilitation and reintegration of released inmates into society.
Agomoh added that PRAWA was tasked with securing the release of inmates with the option of fine, which led to the launch of the Fine4Inmates initiative.
The PRAWA boss said the project solicited the support of corporate organizations and the public through newspaper publications and social media advertisements.
“At the states custodial center, number of inmates released are 10 inmates in Umuahia, Abia State.
“Two inmates in the Enugu Custodial Centre, eight in Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Kuje Custodial Centre, two in Kurmawa Custodial Centre, Kano State and three in Kano Central Custodial Centre.
“This brings us to the total number of inmates released across these centers as 25,” she said.
Agomoh said some of the beneficiaries of the project were interviewed, and they shared their stories.
This, she said, included the reason for their arrests, the length of their custodial sentences, the amount of their fines, and suggestions on how to prevent them and other offenders from returning to a life of crime.
“Interestingly, the Fine4Inmates Project is one of Mr Rauf Aregbesola’s initiatives sustained by the administration of the present Minister of Interior Dr Tunde Olubumi-Ojo.
“In partnership with PRAWA and other stakeholders, the minister is engaging in the nationwide release of inmates upon payment of their fines and compensation.
Agomoh said the process of securing the release of the individuals posed numerous challenges adding that high sum of money given as option of fine in some centers, was a major.
She also mentioned discrepancies in Information saying that complications arose due to discrepancies between court records, warrants and correctional center records.
“Additionally, there were variances in vital information, such as charge numbers and the nature of sentences.
“Despite facing challenges, the PRAWA team overcame corruption, bureaucracy, and lackadaisical attitudes to release the necessary information successfully.
“Reconciling information and rectifying discrepancies were crucial steps in the process,” she said.
Agomoh, however, said addressing the challenges required collaborative efforts from stakeholders.
This, she said, was to ensure the effectiveness of initiatives like the Fine4Inmates project in achieving the goals of inmate release, rehabilitation, and reintegration.
Agomoh said PRAWA also supported the Jail Delivery Program of the Lagos State Judiciary by supporting released inmates for transport back home and engaging them in different rehabilitation programs under the same objective.
This, she said, was in line with PRAWA’s decongestion initiatives adding that the organisation provided logistics and counseling support to inmate’s released by the Lagos State Judiciary.
She said, “PRAWA actively participated in the custodial center decongestion exercise led by the Lagos State Judiciary, Ministry of Justice, Correctional Service, Nigerian Police, and civil society organizations.
“This initiative, guided by relevant legal frameworks, aimed to scrutinize and release inmates to alleviate overcrowding in custodial centers.
“PRAWA played a crucial role of conducting counselling sessions for the released inmates and also introduced a comprehensive rehabilitation programs which commenced on July 21, at the PRAWA Lagos Office.
“Additionally, transport money was provided to all released inmates, enabling them to travel to their various destinations.
“This holistic approach to custodial center decongestion and rehabilitation was well-received and appreciated by the freed individuals,” she said.
Sodiq Yusuf is a trained media practitioner and journalist with considerable years of experience in print, broadcast, and digital journalism. His interests cover a wide range of causes in politics, governance, sports, community development, and good governance.