In a significant move towards decongesting correctional centers nationwide, the Federal Government has freed 150 inmates, raising N585 million to settle fines. The Minister of Interior, Dr. Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo, represented by Assistant Director Dr. Anayo Romanus-Nzekwe, made the announcement during the release of the beneficiaries in Kano.
Having expressed concern over the plight of over 4,000 inmates held for their inability to pay fines, Minister Tunji-Ojo had previously vowed to clear fines estimated at about N500 million and release the detainees. The latest development is in line with President Bola Tinubu’s Renewed Hope Agenda.
Romanus-Nzekwe, speaking on behalf of the minister, explained, “The Federal Government wants to decongest custodial centers and make them humane for proper reformation and rehabilitation of offenders to take place.”
Out of the N585 million raised from philanthropic individuals, groups, and corporate bodies, N13.4 million was spent in Kano State alone. The initiative aims to assist inmates nationwide, with all those having fines and compensation not exceeding N1 million eligible for the program.
“We have given the inmates requisite training aimed at impacting their lives functionally and equipping them with the knowledge and skills for their self-reliance upon discharge,” Romanus-Nzekwe added.
As a part of their reintegration into society, each freed inmate received N10,000 to facilitate their return to their homes and villages. The minister commended the Controller-General of Corrections and the Nigerian Correctional Service staff for their efforts in ensuring safe and humane custody.
He also urged the public and communities to welcome the returning inmates without stigma, emphasizing that support and acceptance are crucial in preventing relapse into criminal activities, which could further endanger society. The Federal Government’s initiative signals a positive step towards addressing issues of overcrowded prisons and fostering rehabilitation and reformation among the incarcerated population.