Aregbesola Inaugurates Newly Built Osun state Command Nigerian Correctional Service advocate on decongesting Centers

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Seventy four (74%) per cent of the total population of inmates in Nigerian Correctional Centres are awaiting trial inmates while only 26 per cent are actual convicts.

The minister of interior, Rauf Aregbesola who disclosed this in Osogbo, Osun while inaugurating the newly built state command of the Nigerian Correctional Service said decongesting the centres has been a major challenge of the agency.

He noted that 50,992 inmates are awaiting trial while 17,755 are actual convicts, adding that the numerical strength of the awaiting trial inmates is working against safe and effective custody of inmates.

He said “This fact greatly limits our capacity for corrections, since awaiting trial inmates being suspects, can only be accommodated and not reformed.

“One of the gaps the President Muhammadu Buhari-administration has had to grapple with since inauguration is infrastructure deficit in virtually every area. This is not less evident at the NCoS

“With a lot of the buildings becoming old, weak and dilapidated, the atmosphere around custodial facilities and offices was discouraging.

“I am very proud to be associated with this huge transformation of the working environment of the service. Beauty is a thing of pride and joy. A befitting and conducive work place is motivating and inspiring.”

Aregbesola said “the government has been addressing this challenge of congestion. Last year, at the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Federal Government, through the Ministries of Interior and Justice, initiated presidential pardon and amnesty programme for inmates.

“Some federal offenders benefited from the programme and got reprieve, while the state governments got recommendations and guidelines for release of their own convicts. More than 5,000 inmates have so far being released under the programme, which is ongoing.”

 He said “the government is building a 3,000 high-capacity custodial centre in each of Karchi, Abuja FCT, Kano, Kano State and Bori in Rivers State. Each of these high capacity facilities will have courts for the trial of the inmates. The plan is to extend it to the six geo-political zones in the country.”

“The Kano project is nearing completion. When these projects are completed, they will ease congestion considerably and enhance the capacity to manage our facilities for corrections. We are also working on instituting non-custodial sentencing in form of suspended sentence, community service and home sentence for first offenders and light crimes” the minister added.

He then sought the cooperation of state governments in addressing the challenge by accelerating the wheel of justice in their respective States.

According to him, “the second way the states can share in the burden of decongesting custodial facilities is to join in building holding centres. All the states need to do is to build the facilities to specification and set aside a sum for the maintenance of inmates. The service will provide the personnel to man and run the facilities efficiently.

“The third way is for State Governors to summon the will to do the needful on death row convicts. There are presently 3,008 condemned criminals waiting for their date with the executioners in our meagre custodial facilities. This consists of 2,952 males and 56 females.

“In cases where appeal has been exhausted and the convicts are not mounting any challenge to their conviction, the state should go ahead, one, to do the needful and bring closure to their cases; two, set some others free on compassionate ground, especially those who have grown old on account of the long time they have been in custody, those who are terminally ill and those who have been reformed and demonstrated exceptionally good behaviour; and three, commute others sentences to life or a specific terms in jail. This can be done by putting in place a system of amnesty and prerogative of mercy that will review all cases of convicts on death row periodically, Aregbesola noted.

Speaking, Governor Gboyega Oyetola who noted Aregbesola’s contributions in renaming the centre from prison to correctional centre, urged officers and men of the service to put in their best for improved service delivery that would enhance sustainable development.

Represented by the state secretary to government, Wole Oyebamiji, the governor recommended training and retraining of the officers for optimum service delivery in line with the vision of the centre.

In his remarks, the Senate Senate spokesperson, Ajibola Bashir acknowledged the minister’s efforts at revamping security and civil defence corps, NSCDC, the Nigeria correctional centres and the fire service, among others.

The senator described the gesture as complement to the efforts of the National Assembly which just passed
supplementary budget to allow more resources to be committed to addressing internal security and strengthen fight against insurgency and banditry

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