…With N585m Funding Support from Philanthropists, Corporate Organisations
In a move to demonstrate human kindness and decongest the custodial facilities across the nation, the Minister of Interior ,Hon. Dr. Olubunmi Tunji- Ojo, on Saturday in Abuja flagged off the release of inmates of correctional Centres who had remained in custody simply because they could not raise the money to settle their respective fines.
” Today, we flag off the release of a total of 4,068 inmates who are serving different terms of imprisonment in lieu of fines and/or compensation.
Most of the benefitting inmates at the verge of their freedom are indigents who cannot afford to pay their fines, and are languishing in custody”,the Minister said.
According to the Minister,”This is in our bid to decongest Custodial Centres and make them humane for proper reformation and rehabilitation of offenders to take place.”
The Minister disclosed that the initiative became necessary to tackle the challenge of overcrowding as the 253 custodial facilities across the nation with a capacity for less than 50,000 inmates currently houses about 80,804 inmates thereby overshooting it’s capacity by over 30,000 persons.
He stated that the sum of Five Hundred and Eighty-five Million Naira only (N585,000,000.00) was raised by philanthropic individuals, groups and corporate bodies, as part of their corporate social responsibility, for this purpose. Asked by the press to disclose the identity of the donors, he said he didn’t have their permission to do so but expressed hope that with time , the public will be availed of the information.
The inmates who are to benefit from this initiative are those who have fines and/or compensation not exceeding One Million Naira only (N1,000,000.00).
“In addition, we are also providing each of them a stipend to enable them return to their communities”, Dr. Tunji-Ojo revealed.
“Suffice it to mention at this point that we are not just releasing them to their fates; we have given them requisite training aimed at impacting their lives functionally and equipping them with the knowledge for their self-reliance upon discharge.
“The training also covers their civic duties and responsibilities as citizens, and strategies of refraining from reoffending.
“In line with the President Bola Ahmed Tinubu mantra of Renewed Hope, the benefitting inmates have been given a second opportunity to get back to track and contribute to the ongoing development of our dear nation.
“It is said that no one truly knows a nation until one has been inside its custodial facilities. It is based on this premise that this administration is poised to transform custodial and non-custodial facilities to ensure compliance with international human rights standards and good correctional practices.
The Minister thanked all donors who made the initiative possible as well as the Controller-General of Corrections and staff of the Nigerian Correctional Service for providing the needed platform and mechanisms towards the safe and humane custody of inmates.
He also called on the larger community to receive these returning citizens with open arms advising that they should not be stigmatized in order not to drive them back to offending the law, which could further endanger the society.