The Federal Government has said it would stop feeding state offenders in custodial centres across the country from January 1, 2024.
It added that state governments must include the feeding of their inmates in federal facilities in their budgets till they can build their facilities.
Speaking during the inauguration of the Command Headquarters of the Nigerian Correctional Service in Owerri on Friday, the Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola said more than 90 per cent of inmates in custodial facilities across the nation are state offenders, noting that state governments must take responsibility for their inmates.
These were contained in a statement on Friday by his Media Adviser, Sola Fasure.
He also advised state governments to fully optimise the recently signed constitutional amendment to improve the condition of inmates in custodial facilities across the country.
The statement partly read, “One big challenge we have at Corrections is congestion, especially at the urban centres where the population density is high and human relations are more complex, leading to higher crime rate and the need to keep some people behind bars. But we are addressing this challenge with the construction of six mega custodial centres in the six geopolitical zones of the country. The ones in Kano and Abuja are ready and with regular funding, the remaining will be completed.
“It is also hoped that State Governments will take advantage of the constitutional amendment recently signed by President Muhammadu Buhari which makes corrections a concurrent affair. It is on record that more than 90 per cent of inmates in our facilities are state offenders. It is important therefore that State Governments begin to invest in corrections.
The Federal Government will stop feeding state inmates by December 31, 2023. Furthermore, by January 1, 2024, the Federal Government will stop feeding state inmates kept in federal facilities. State governments must now start budgeting for feeding their inmates in federal facilities while we wait for them to build their facilities.”
Aregbesola also stressed the need for a comprehensive review of the nation’s criminal justice system in a bid to address the alarming figure of inmates who are awaiting trial and languishing in jail.
He said, “It is even more important to reform the criminal justice system. I have been making the case and I will continue to do so, that 70 per cent of inmates are awaiting trial and constitute the majority in our facilities. The sad thing about this is we cannot statutorily begin their process of reformation because they are assumed to be innocent, except for those who voluntarily wish to participate in any of our programmes. ”
The Minister also said custodial facilities across Nigeria are daily strengthened to contain various attempts by enemies of the state to break into the vital national security arm.
He said, “On the latter, we have been successful. While there have been unfortunate cases of recidivism, an overwhelming number of our inmates have returned to society to be better citizens and contribute their quota to national development.
“For instance, we were treated to sublime entertainment at Ilesa by a musical band of inmates whose performance will dwarf most of the bands we have in our society. Hopefully, they will continue and become great in the land upon their release.”