The Minister of Interior, Dr. Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo, has started the release of 4,068 prisoners who have served varying sentences of incarceration with the option of a fine or compensation as part of measures to decongest the Nigerian Custodial Centres.
The programme, according to the minister, is aimed towards prisoners whose fines and reparations total less than N1 million. The event took place at the Medium Security Custodial Centre in Kuje, Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.
The facilities presently house “approximately 80,804 inmates, significantly surpassing their limits and prompting this strategic intervention,” according to Tunji-Ojo, who also stated that the facilities had a “installed capacity of no fewer than 50,000.”
He stated, “This release, targeting inmates with fines and/or compensations not exceeding N1m, extends a lifeline primarily to indigents unable to settle their dues, allowing them a second chance at freedom.
“Philanthropic individuals, groups, and corporate bodies rallied together, raising a total of N580m for this noble cause. Moreover, it’s not just about freeing these individuals but empowering them for a successful reintegration into society.
“The inmates received comprehensive training covering practical skills, civic duties, and strategies to prevent recidivism, ensuring a more promising future upon their return to their communities.”
According to Tunji-Ojo, the government’s pledge to modernise both custodial and non-custodial facilities was made in accordance with President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s vision and international human rights standards as well as efficient correctional techniques.
He also praised the Nigerian Correctional Service for their commitment to both national security and humanitarian imprisonment.