The Federal government of Nigeria has expressed its willingness to collaborate with relevant parties to decongest Nigeria’s correctional facilities.
Wednesday in Abuja, Minister of the Interior Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola disclosed the information during a roundtable discussion with Prisoner Rehabilitation And Welfare Action (PRAWA) and representatives of donors participating in development agencies.
Aregbesola stated that the country’s correctional facilities are overcrowded with inmates awaiting trial, those on the death list, those unable to pay debt and penalties, and some for minor offences.
According to the minister, less than twenty percent of inmates are first-time offenders. He stated: “Correctional Service has no authority over prisoners. Whoever the Judiciary instructs them to hold, they hold,” adding, “Our role is to ensure the safety of detainees and to advise the government.”
While thanking the stakeholders for their assistance, Aregbesola urged them to collaborate with the Federal Government by contributing not only financially, but also technically and intellectually, in order to decongest the detention centres.
He stated that the majority of incarcerated individuals have committed state offences for which the President has no authority to pardon, revealing that the President has approved a measure that moves Correctional Service to concurrent list.
In his opening remarks, the Permanent Secretary, Dr. Shuaib Belgore, represented by the Director of Legal Services, praised the Minister for his passion and efforts in the decongestion of correctional facilities in the country, which will be his lasting legacy.
The Controller General of Nigeria Correctional Service, Halliru Nababa, who was represented, stated that the number of detainees in correctional facilities across the nation greatly exceeds the number of available facilities. He disclosed that the correctional facility in Port Harcourt, which was designed to house 800 inmates, currently houses over 4,000 inmates and that the Correctional Service is prepared and grateful for any assistance in helping to decongest the correctional facilities.
Directors from the Ministry and PRAWA, as well as representatives from donor agencies, are present at the event.