The Federal Government (FG) has flagged off the release of 4,068 inmates sentenced to various terms of imprisonment with the option of a fine and compensation in custodial centres nationwide.
According to Peak News Nigeria, the Minister of Interior, Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo, performed the symbolic release of the inmates at the Medium Security Custodial Centre, Kuje, Abuja, on Saturday.
The minister said the aim of the move was to decongest custodial centres across the country as well as make them humane for proper reformation and rehabilitation of the offenders.
“Today, we flagged off the release of a total of 4,068 inmates who are serving different terms of imprisonment in lieu of fines or compensation,” he stated.
According to him, as of Friday, November 17, 2023, there were about 80,804 inmates in 253 custodial facilities nationwide.
He added that the total installed capacity for the 253 custodial centres adds up to less than 50,000.
Tunji-Ojo however called for reform in the criminal justice administration to allow for speedy dispensation of justice, pointing out that a large number of inmates in custodial centres are awaiting trial.
He said the Custodial Centre, Kuje, where 37 of the beneficiary inmates were released, has the capacity to hold 560 inmates, but currently, a total of 730 inmates are being held, of which 565 of them are awaiting trial.
The figure, he said showed that the facilities are overcrowded, necessitating the commencement of the initiative, which is targeted towards addressing the overcrowding bedevilling custodial centres and their reformatory functions.
Tunji-Ojo explained that most of the inmates granted freedom are indigents who could not afford to pay their fines and have been languishing in custody.
He added that N585 million was raised by philanthropic individuals, groups, and corporate bodies for the purpose of releasing the inmates.|Peak News Nigeria