Nigerian government to spends N22.44bn on feeding inmates

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The Federal Government has said that Nigeria will spend N22.4 billion feeding inmates in correctional centres nationwide.

The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Interior, Dr Shuaib Belgore, said this during a high-level conference on corrections and decongestion of custodial centres on Thursday, May 11, 2023 in Abuja.

Belgore stated that the fund is budgeted for in the 2023 Appropriation Act.

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He said that there has been a steady rise in the population of the custodial centres with at least 80% of the inmates awaiting trial.

According to him, there are 244 custodial centres nationwide, with a 75,507-inmate population, thereby leading to 82 of them being overcrowded.

“The total number of male inmates are 73,821 and 1,686 are female inmates. Out of the 75,507 inmates, 52,436 are awaiting trial while 23,071 are convicted persons, with 3,322 as condemned inmates on death row.

“The Federal Government budgeted N22.44 billion in the 2023 appropriation to cater for the feeding of inmates. Failure to take action to decongest the custodial centres will come at a cost.

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“The effects of overcrowding in the custodial centres have led to huge revenue drain for the Federal Government.

“Dilapidation of the centres, criminalisation of the society and the inability to separate awaiting trial inmates from convicted persons,” he said.

Belgore said there was need for holistic reform of the country’s correction system, including the modernisation of custodial centres for appropriate reformation and rehabilitation of inmates.

He said that stakeholders have since emphasised the need to build new facilities and redesign the bail system.

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“I am of the view that the discourse at this conference should allocate more time to address speedy dispensation of justice to reduce number of inmates on awaiting trial.

“In as much as the Ministry of Interior works tirelessly to accomplish the goal of achieving greater reduction of number of inmates across our custodial centres, we are determined to ensure that the correctional facilities provide not just a decent accommodation.

“We also ensure that inmates acquire skills and knowledge to advance their integration into the society when they eventually regain freedom,” Belgore said.

He said that the conference should propose efficient, effective and sustainable solutions to tackle congestion of custodial centres and effective implementation of non-custodial measures.

The permanent secretary added that strategies should be devised to promote effective reformation, rehabilitation and reintegration of inmates.

Belgore said the role of the Federal and State Governments in correction of inmates should also be examined by the conference.

“The statistics ratio of federal and state offenders is mind boggling and worrisome.

“The federal offenders in the correctional facilities are far less than 10%, leaving the majority of over 90% to state offences,” he said.

Belgore said that improved implementation of the criminal justice system and adoption of non-custodial measures would help in the decongestion of custodial centres across the nation.

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