Prison decongestion: FG begins audit of inmates in 256 custodial centres

The Federal Government has commenced nationwide audits of inmates across the 256 custodial centres to enable it to carry out decongestion of the facilities.

Minister of Interior, Dr Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo, made this known after he undertook 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.

He hinted that the government has planned a massive decongestion of the custodial centres, saying this could only be possible after the nationwide audit is carried out.

Tunji-Ojo also noted that there is ongoing rehabilitation of the custodial centres, disclosing that a lot of the correctional facilities were inherited from the Colonial administration, requiring reconstruction to make them transformational centres.

The Minister also revealed that work is ongoing on the Suleja Custodial Centre while a manhunt is still on to recapture the few remaining fleeing inmates.

Tunji-Ojo said: “That is ongoing but the good thing for me is that we did a 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,” he said.

According to a statement, the minister at the Kuje facility 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 excited by the development, said the facilities are no longer prisons but correctional centres for reforming the legally interned.

“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. This 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 about both the strongest and the weakest in our society,” he said.

Earlier, the government had begun the process of decongesting Kuje Custodial Centre, following a jailbreak that took place in the centre.

Besides, the government is considering the construction and fortification of Karshi Correctional Centre to prevent the reoccurrence of jailbreaks in Kuje and Suleija custodial centres.



Tribune Online