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How we will decongest Nigerian correctional centres – Minister



The Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola, has said that the federal government is committed to decongesting the correctional centres across the country by reducing the number of awaiting trial inmates.

Mr Aregbesola spoke at a public hearing organised by the National Assembly Joint Committee on Appropriation on Wednesday, according to the Vanguard newspaper.

He said that a committee has been set up to that effect, and the committee has been working together with the office of the Attorney-General of the Federation.

“What are we doing about people who are awaiting trial? A new law provides for correctional officers in the facilities to reject any person that is brought from the court, who is awaiting trial,’’ Mr Aregbesola said.

“So with this new law, it is clear that going forward we will not have what we have now in our facilities.’’

He added: “In (the not too) distant future, we will reduce the issue of inmates awaiting trial considerably; as we are also working with the governors on that.

“Because close to 90 per cent of the awaiting trial inmates are violators of state laws and so are essentially the responsibility of the various state governments.

“So we equally need to carry them along in devising strategies to decongest the facilities and I want to assure us all that in six months time, this will be put behind us.”

Mr Aregbesola also said there are about 75,000 inmates currently in the correctional facilities across the country.

According to the Nigerian Correctional Service website, as at October 14, 2019, the official population of convicts and awaiting trial persons in the correctional service facilities across the country is 74,081 — 72,662 (98%) males and 1,419 females (2%).

Of the 22,701 (31%) inmates who have been convicted, 22,390 are males and 311 females.

The remaining 51,380 (69%) persons are on awaiting trial, of which 50,272 are males and 1,108 are females.

Among other things, Mr Aregbesola also said that the government has a mandate to “reduce pressure on prison facilities, to improve the care of inmates, particularly inmates in reformation, rehabilitation, and re-adjustment to normal life when they completed their terms.”

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