Monday, April 15, 2024

We’ve spent N22.44bn to feed 75,507 inmates – FG

BY MAYOWA SAMUEL

The sum of N22.44 billion has been spent on the feeding of 75,507 inmates in the Correctional Centres nationwide, the Federal Government has revealed.

The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Interior, Shuaib Belgore, disclosed this in Abuja on Thursday, during a high-level conference on corrections and decongestion of custodial centres.

Belgore said the inmates were spread across 244 Custodial Centres nationwide, adding that 70 per cent of the inmates were awaiting trial.

He attributed the high number of awaiting trial inmates to arbitrary arrests, delay in dispensing justice and inability to meet bail conditions.

The Permanent Secretary said that the situation had led to the congestion of 82 Custodial Centres across the country.

“The total number of male inmates are 73,821 and 1,686 are female inmates. Out of the 75,507 inmates, 52,436 are awaiting trial while 23,071 are convicted persons, with 3,322 as condemned inmates on death row.

“The Federal Government budgeted N22.44 billion in the 2023 appropriation to cater for the feeding of inmates. Failure to take action to decongest the Custodial Centres will come at a cost.

“The effects of overcrowding in the Custodial Centres have led to huge revenue drain for the Federal Government.

“Dilapidation of the centres, criminalisation of the society and the inability to separate awaiting trial inmates from convicted persons,” he said.

Belgore said there was a need for a holistic reform of the country’s correction system, including the modernisation of Custodial Centres for appropriate reformation and rehabilitation of inmates.

He said that stakeholders had since emphasised the need to build new facilities and redesign the bail system.

“I am of the view that the discourse at this conference should allocate more time to address speedy dispensation of justice to reduce the number of inmates awaiting trial.

“Inasmuch as the Ministry of Interior works tirelessly to accomplish the goal of achieving a greater reduction of the number of inmates across our custodial centres, we are determined to ensure that the correctional facilities provide not just decent accommodation.

“We also ensure that inmates acquire skills and knowledge to advance their integration into the society when they eventually regain freedom,” Belgore said.

He noted that the conference should propose efficient, effective and sustainable solutions to tackle congestion of Custodial Centres and effective implementation of non-custodial measures.

The Permanent Secretary added that strategies should be devised to promote effective reformation, rehabilitation and reintegration of inmates.

Belgore said the role of the Federal and State Governments in correction of inmates should also be examined by the conference.

“The statistics ratio of federal and state offenders is mind boggling and worrisome.

“The federal offenders in the correctional facilities are far less than 10%, leaving the majority of over 90% to state offences,” he said.

Belgore added that improved implementation of the criminal justice system and adoption of non-custodial measures would help in the decongestion of Custodial Centres across the nation.

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