HomeNewsNigerian Government Frees Hundreds of Inmates to Ease Prison Congestion

Nigerian Government Frees Hundreds of Inmates to Ease Prison Congestion

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The Nigerian government has announced the release of hundreds of inmates from correctional centres across the country as part of its efforts to decongest the prisons and improve the conditions of the detainees.

The Minister of Interior, Dr. Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo, said the government had raised N585m from philanthropic individuals, groups and corporate bodies to pay the fines and compensation of 4,068 inmates who were sentenced to various terms of imprisonment with the option of fine but could not afford to pay.

The minister, who was represented by an Assistant Director in the ministry, Dr Anayo Romanus-Nzekwe, disclosed this on Thursday in Kano, during the release of 150 inmates from the Maximum Security Custodial Centre, Janguza in Kano State.

He said the 150 inmates were among the first batch of beneficiaries of the initiative, which was in line with President Bola Tinubu’s Renewed Hope Agenda.

He explained that the initiative was aimed at making the correctional centres more humane and conducive for the reformation and rehabilitation of offenders.

He added that the inmates were given requisite training and skills to enable them to reintegrate into society and become productive citizens.

He also said that each of the freed inmates was given N10,000 to enable them to return to their various homes and villages.

He commended the Controller-General of Corrections and the staff of the Nigerian Correctional Service for providing the needed platform and mechanisms towards the safe and humane custody of inmates.

He called on the public and communities to receive the returning inmates with open arms and refrain from stigmatising them as it could drive them back to committing crimes, which would further endanger society.

He urged the inmates to see the initiative as a second chance to make things right again and join hands with the president to make Nigeria a great nation.

The Controller General of Corrections, Mr Halliru Nababa, who was represented by the Controller of Corrections, Kano State Command, Suleiman Inuwa, said the gesture made a significant impact on the lives of numerous inmates across the country.

He said the exercise would continue until all the qualified inmates were released.

Meanwhile, the Chief Judge of Gombe State, Justice Halima Mohammed, also on Thursday pardoned and freed 185 inmates in five custodial facilities across the state.

The CJ said the release of the inmates followed the recommendation of the Criminal Justice Reform Committee.

She said the committee was supported by the Gombe State Government and was geared towards decongesting the custodial centres. She urged the ex-inmates to be of good character and abide by the law.

The Comptroller of the Gombe State Command of NCoS, Lawan Gusau, lauded the Chief Judge and the Criminal Justice Reform Committee for their compassion and service delivery.

He said the exercise was the first of its kind in the state and expressed hope that it would reduce the challenges of overcrowding and inadequate facilities in the custodial centres.

The Nigerian government has been facing increasing pressure to address the problem of prison congestion, which has been worsened by the COVID-19 pandemic and the prolonged judicial strike.

According to the latest statistics from the Nigerian Correctional Service, as of March 2021, there were 68,747 inmates in 244 custodial centres across the country, out of which 50,992 were awaiting trial.

The government has also been criticised for the poor conditions and human rights violations in the prisons, which have been described as “hellish” and “inhumane” by local and international organisations.

The government has pledged to reform the correctional system and ensure that the inmates are treated with dignity and respect.

The release of the inmates is seen as a positive step towards achieving this goal and giving hope to thousands of Nigerians who are languishing in detention.

Source: PUNCH

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