THE Federal Government has raised N585 million to settle fines for inmates languishing in various correctional centres nationwide.
The Minister of Interior, Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo, gave the update on Thursday, November 30, during the release of 150 inmates from the Maximum Security Custodial Centre, Janguza, in Kano state, according to a report by the Punch.
He stated that the inmates were among the 4,068 prisoners the government intended to pay off their fines and allow them to return home.
The ICIR reported that Tunji-Ojo had, on Saturday, November 17, flagged off an initiative at Kuje prison in Abuja and revealed the Federal Government’s plans to settle a sum of N585 million in fines to release 4,068 inmates nationwide.
He said the intention was to decongest custodial centres to enable proper reformation and rehabilitation of offenders to take place.
“Most of the inmates are indigents who cannot afford to pay their fine (and) languishing in custody. The total fund of N585 million was raised by corporate bodies as corporate social responsibility (CSR) for this purpose,” the minister said.
He also said the initiative would only benefit inmates with fines below N1 million.
Represented by an assistant director in the Ministry of Interior, Anayo Romanus-Nzekwe, during the release of the 150 inmates, Tunji-Ojo reiterated that the Federal Government was out to clear over N500 million fines and free the inmates.
“The released inmates were sentenced to various terms of imprisonment with the option of fine and compensation and could not afford to pay their fines and are languishing in custody.
“The sum of N13.4 million was spent in Kano state out of the N585 million raised by philanthropic individuals, groups, and corporate bodies, as part of their corporate social responsibility, for this purpose nationwide,” he said.
Tunji-Ojo further disclosed that each freed inmate was given N10,000 to enable them to return to their various homes and villages.
He urged the inmates to stay off crimes, abide by the instructions and training they received while in custody, and be good ambassadors in their communities.
As of November 27, 2023, data from the Nigerian Correctional Service (NCS) showed that there were 80,461 inmates convicted and awaiting trials, consisting of 78,675 males and 1,786 females, in the 240 custodial centres spread across the 36 states and Federal Capital Territory.
While 25,399 (24,953 male and 446 female) had been convicted for various offences, 55,062 (53,722 male and 1,340 female) were awaiting trials.
The NCS had in 2021 said the correctional centres combined could only take 50,083 inmates.