In keeping with his promise to decongest Correctional facilities across the country the Minister for Interior, Hon. Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo has flagged off the release of 4068 inmates who are being held custody due to their inability to pay their court-imposed fines.
While flagging off the initiative at Kuje prison, in Abuja, Tunji-Ojo said that inmates who have fines not exceeding N1 million are qualified to benefit from the ministry’s initiative. According to him, the number of these inmates is about 4,068.
He said the initiative will help in the decongestion of the correctional facilities and mitigate against overdue detention of inmates due to lack of bail funds.
“It’s with great pleasure that I stand with you today to flag off the release of 4,068 inmates sentenced to various terms of imprisonment with the option of fine and compensation in custodial status nationwide. This is in a bid to decongest custodial centres as well as make ready proper reformation and rehabilitation of offenders to take place”, the minister said.
“As of yesterday, the 17th of November 2023, there were about 8804 inmates in 253 custodial facilities nationwide with a total installed capacity of less than 50,000. It shows that our custodial centres are overcrowded, necessitating this initiative we are flagging off today.
“Most of the inmates are indigents who cannot afford to pay their fine languishing in custody. The total fund of N585 million was raised by cooperate bodies as Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) for this purpose. Hence, all inmates in custodial centres who have fines or compensation not exceeding 1 million are qualified and will benefit from this gesture. In addition, we are also providing each of them a stipend to enable them to stand in their community,” the Minister added.
Later on in a post on his official X handle, the Minister of Interior Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo noted that the release of these inmates is only a first step in the Renewed hope agenda of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu to introduce global best practices, which include activating non-custodial measures in Nigeria’s correctional system.
Few weeks ago shortly after resumption of office, the Minister revealed that in the course of briefings he received from the Nigeria Correctional Service, he learnt that 4068 inmates are in custody due to failure to raise various fines imposed on them, which amounted to around N500 million. He therefore promised to approach private sector players to help raise the fund as part of their corporate social responsibility (CSR).