- As Interior Minister, Tunji-Ojo urges inmates to shun crimes
The Federal Government on Saturday flagged off the release of 4068 inmates at the Nigeria Correctional Centers nationwide.
This followed the payment of over N500m fines on behalf of the inmates as part of the efforts of the federal government to decongest the overcrowded facilities.
During the flag off ceremony at the Kuje Correctional Centre in Abuja, the Minister of Interior, Dr. Bunmi Tunji-Ojo said the rationale behind the release of the prisoners was not only to decongest the centres but to also rehabilitate and make them self-employed.
The Minister explained that the 4068 inmates were withheld because they lack wherewithal to pay fines imposed on them, adding that a lump sum of over N500m was raised with the help of corporate bodies and organizations to clear the fines.
He said, “As of yesterday, 80,804 inmates were in the 256 Correctional Centers nationwide with capacity of 50,000. It shows that the Correctional Centers are overcrowded.
“Today, the flagoff for the release 4068 inmates was sequel to an amount of N500m raised by corporate bodies as part of their Corporate Social Responsibility. Those who have fines not exceeding N1million will benefit from this gestures.
“We will also provide stipends for them to return to their various households. We are also giving them requisite training for them to be self-employed.
“I was told the Sofa I sat on was a product of the inmates. It is now Reformation Centres. I appreciate all stakeholders who facilitated the good gesture”
Tunji-Ojo, however, admonished the inmates to shun crimes and criminalities after regaining their implicit freedom.
Earlier in his address, the Controller General of the Nigerian Correctional Service, Haliru Nababa, described the decongestion of the facilities as heartwarming and congenial to nation-building.
Nababa thereafter commended Tunji-Ojo for taking significant steps to decongesting the overcrowded facilities, saying the Minister has set a laudable pace.
“It is heartwarming that the Minister is here to perform such a significant function. The Minister is acquainted with the challenge also with a view to putting an end to it.
“This sole initiative under the Minister of Interior has set the laudable pace for individuals, corporate bodies, and stakeholders. We have also continued to pursue other strategies to decongest the prisons. We have been reaching out to legal practitioners for legal services on Probono, “he said.