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June 14, 2024

Congestion: FG begins audit of prison inmates

Congestion: FG begins audit of prison inmates

…Minister gets three books authored by Kuje inmate

By Omeiza Ajayi

The Federal Government says it has commenced the audit of inmates across its 256 Custodial Centres in the country, with a view to decongesting the facilities.

Minister of Interior, Dr Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo disclosed this after undertaking an inspection of the ongoing 3,000-capacity Maximum Security Custodial Centre in Janguza, Kano State as well as the Medium Security Custodial Centre in Kuje, Abuja.

Asked about the audit of inmates, he said; “That is ongoing but the good thing for me is that we did facility audit earlier and we can see that the result of the facility audit is how we are intervening. So, we are very empirical and scientific in our approach. We don’t just throw solutions to problems that are unknown. We discover the problems, we know the root cause of issues, then we find solutions to them.

“So, the audit system is being empirical. It is scientific and that will lead massively to the decongestion of our Custodial Centres. It is not just saying you want to decongest. It is about you knowing the status. Life is all about data. Data is the new oil. Data is the blood of life in this millennium. The audit is going on and by the time we are done with the audit, you will see the level of decongestion that we will have as a result of the audit. So, we are just being empirical”.

At the Kuje facility, the minister got a gift of three books authored by one of the inmates who had been in custody for the past 12 years.

Tunji-Ojo who was elated, said the facilities are no longer prison but correctional centres for reforming the legally interned.

He said; “We were in Kano to see the 3,000-capacity Maximum Security Custodial Centre, which of course, is work in progress. It is about the intervention of the Administration in terms of our Custodial Centres and I can tell you that work is still going on. We are not where we want to be but obviously, we are not where we were. So, it is work in progress basically.

“And here in Kuje, this is just one of the so many Custodial Centres that we are renovating at the moment and as you can see, all the perimeter fencing have been concluded. They are all concrete. All the security infrastructure, which I cannot disclose in public, have been out in place and even when you talk about the welfare, the cells have all been renovated, there are more facilities and the ambience is good. You can see it yourself that this is not the Kuje facility that you used to know.

“Obviously, Renewed Hope is on course. President Bola Tinubu is working on our Custodial Centres and not to forget, a young man, one of the inmates today gifted me about three books authored by him. He has been here for like 12 years and today he has finished his first degree through the National Open University of Nigeria NOUN, he has finished his Masters Degree and is about enrolling for his PhD.

“That is the positive story about Nigeria that I want people to see. These shows that our Custodial Centres are no longer ‘Prisons’. They are now correctional. They are transformational. They are reformatory institutions and Nigerians can know that the Renewed Hope Agenda is not just about the strongest in the society. It is a out both the strongest and the weakest in our society.

“Work is ongoing on the Suleja Custodial Centre and of course and a manhunt is still on to recapture the few remaining feeling inmates. Work is ongoing, including the new centre we are building there beside the old structures. It is not just about Suleja, which is just one out of the 256 Custodial Centres that we have and this Administration inherited 256 centres that needed rehabilitation and you can see what we have done here and in so many of our centres. We are intervening and also building bigger capacity, more modern centres.

“The Correctional Service is one that needs intervention and the government is doing everything because we know we have to put in all the efforts to make sure that we are able to offer solutions to most of these problems.

“Do not forget that a lot of these centres were built under the Colonial era. Some of these facilities are 60 to over 100 years old. So, President Tinubu did not become president a hundred years ago but he understands that he is president and he is intervening so that he won’t hand over a defective system to the next generation”, he added.