Towards the process of decongesting correctional centers nationwide, the Federal Government announced on Thursday that it had successfully raised N585 million to settle fines for inmates.
This initiative aims to alleviate the plight of individuals imprisoned due to an inability to pay fines, contributing to the overall objective of creating more humane conditions within custodial centers.
The disclosure came from the Minister of Interior, Dr. Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo, who was represented by Dr. Anayo Romanus-Nzekwe, an Assistant Director in the ministry, during an event in Kano. The occasion marked the release of 150 inmates, their fines settled by the Federal Government as part of a broader effort to address the issue of overcrowded correctional facilities.
The interior minister had previously expressed concern over the plight of over 4,000 inmates languishing in detention due to their inability to pay fines. He pledged the Federal Government's commitment to clearing these fines, estimated at around N500 million, to secure the release of the affected individuals.
The 150 inmates released from the Maximum Security Custodial Centre in Janguza, Kano State, are part of the nationwide plan to free 4,068 inmates, aligning with President Bola Tinubu’s Renewed Hope Agenda.
The funds raised, totaling N585 million, were contributed by philanthropic individuals, groups, and corporate bodies, exemplifying their commitment to corporate social responsibility. In Kano State alone, N13.4 million was expended for this purpose.
Explaining the eligibility criteria, Romanus-Nzekwe stated that all inmates in custodial centers with fines and compensation not exceeding N1 million were qualified to benefit from this initiative. Additionally, each released inmate received N10,000 to support their reintegration into their respective homes and villages.
The minister emphasized the government's dedication to making custodial centers more conducive to reformation and rehabilitation. He commended the Controller-General of Corrections and the Nigerian Correctional Service staff for their role in ensuring the safe and humane custody of inmates, providing them with training to enhance their functional skills and knowledge for self-reliance upon discharge.