Home News Minister Seeks States’ Partnership To Decongest Correctional Centres 

Minister Seeks States’ Partnership To Decongest Correctional Centres 


Port Harcourt, – The Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, has called for collaboration between states and the Federal Government to decongest Correctional Centres across the country.Aregbesola made the call on Saturday while inaugurating the 20-Bed Space COVID-19 Crisis Intervention Fund Hospital at the Nigerian Correctional Service’s Maximum Security Custodial Centre in Port Harcourt.According to the minister, the custodial centres and personnel are overstretched and the Federal Government is spending more in keeping the inmates in those centres.Aregbesola said the state governments could assist by building courts at those centres and through the introduction of virtual trial to decongest the custodial centres.According to him, the federal government is spending millions of Naira annually in keeping inmates whose fines are less than N10,000.Aregbesola also disclosed that the federal government is constructing a 3,000-capacity Custodial village in the six geo-political zones of the country.He said that these were part of deliberate measures to decongest the custodial centres in Nigeria.”We need to decongest rapidly and part of what should be done is for the state governments to work with us using their domain to build courts inside the facilities so that they can try inmates there.”Part of the reasons why there are delays in prosecution process and trial is difficulty in transporting inmates to the courts.”In addition, virtual trial can be done with improved technology within the court’s facility,” he said.The Minister also emphasised the need for states to waive minor fines, adding that about 5,000 people were languishing in correctional facilities for fines below one N1 million.Aregbesola stressed that he had written to all the state governors on the matter.”Last year we requested for details of persons with fines or such financial order of less than N1,000,000 that are still in our facilities and we got about N5,000,000.”By January this year, I wrote specifically to all governors to sensitize them on the need to wave these fines so as to take those Nigerians away from the custodial centres.”In Rivers State, we have 22 inmates owing the state about N3,800,049; that will not be too much for Rivers State to pay or waive to free them,” he said.The minister said that the amount of money used to keep 22 inmates was more than what the inmates were owing Rivers.According to Aregbesola, the new hospital will increase the capacity of the correctional service in actualising its statutory mandate of keeping inmates in safe and healthy custody.The Minister said that the hospital, alongside six others in the country, built from the COVID-19 Crisis Special Intervention Fund of the Federal Government, would address the medical concerns of inmates and personnel.Aregbesola, who assured that the facility would be maintained to fulfil its mandate, urged corporate bodies to also assist in providing infrastructure in correctional centres to reduce the burden on government.Earlier, the Controller-General of Corrections, Haliru Nababa, had noted that the welfare of inmates was a top priority of the service.Nababa stressed that the allocations from the government had made it possible for the service to purchase large quantity of assorted drugs for distribution.He also noted that the posting of medical personnel across correctional centres in the country had taken medicare in the facilities to an appreciable level.Nababa said that with the improved medical facility, response to medical concerns in the centre would now be robust.He said the hospital was equipped with a theatre, dental facilities, laboratory and other key equipment.Nababa thanked the Minister for his commitment in improving the welfare for personnel, assuring that correctional service would provide the needed services. (NAN)

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