By Sunday Oguntuyi, osogbo
The Federal Government says it is seeking the cooperation of State Governments in addressing the challenges of congestion in custodial facilities across the country.
The Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Adesoji Aregbesola, stated this at the commissioning of the Osun State Command office complex of the Nigerian Correctional Service, Osogbo Friday, 23rd July, 2021.
Aregbesola in his address titled ” UNMATCHED INFRASTRUCTURE DEVELOPMENT” stated that “the entire national custodial facilities have a maximum capacity for 57,278 inmates. But by the last count earlier in the week, there is a total population of 68,747 inmates, made up of 67,422 males and 1,325 females. We have therefore shot above the capacity by 18 per cent.”
He informed that 50,992 inmates, representing 74 per cent of the total population of inmates in the custodial centres are awaiting trial inmates while only 17,755 inmates which is 26 per cent are actual convicts. Bringing to the fore the reality of the limitations in the effective management of the criminal justice administration and therefore urged state governments to work with the federal government in addressing this challenge as an overwhelming majority of inmates in custody are state offenders being tried by their respective State Governments.
Aregbesola who espoused on the various measures undertaken by the government of President Muhammadu Buhari aimed at decongesting custodial facilities urged State Governments to do three things –
1. Accelerate the wheel of justice as a lot of inmates have been in custody for a period longer than the maximum sentence their alleged offences carry. This fundamentally is a miscarriage of justice.
2. Share in the burden of decongesting custodial facilities by building modern holding centres, setting aside a sum for the maintenance of inmates, while the service will provide the personnel to man and run the facilities efficiently.
3. State Governors to summon the will to do the needful on death row convicts and bring closure to their cases; set some others free on compassionate ground, especially those who have grown old on account of the long time in custody, those who are terminally ill and those who have been reformed and demonstrated exceptionally good behaviour; and commute others’ sentences to life or a specific terms in jail, informing that there are presently 3,008 condemned criminals consisting of 2,952 males and 56 females.
Aregbesola commended the Controller General Haliru Nababa, mni, Officers and men of the NCoS for their service in realising the mandate of keeping convicts and awaiting trial suspects in safe and legal custody and reforming convicts to be better citizens.
The Minister thanked President Muhammadu Buhari for his generous disposition towards the ministry of interior and the four agencies under it while appreciating the Government and the good people of the State of Osun for freely donating the land and various assistance to the NCOS.
The Governor of Osun state , Mr. Adegboyega Oyetola in his speech called for more concerted efforts at rehabilitating inmates, saying they are also a significant part of the capacity the nation needs to achieve it’s objectives.
The Governor solicited for all to be done within the nation’s capacity to rehabilitate and reintegrate them back into the society for the collective and sustainable development of the nation.
Oyetola who was represented by the Secretary to the Government, Prince Oyebamiji Oluwole, also commended the Federal Government and the NCoS for providing a conducive environment for the staff adding that it will encourage and boast staff moral in effective service delivery, stating the State’s government’s support to the NCoS.
He alluded to the fact that renaming the service will enable it to achieve its vision of rehabilitating citizens who find themselves on the wrong side of the law and to help them contribute their quotas to the building of their fatherland.
According to Governor Oyetola, “I appreciate the Nigerian Correctional Service, Osun Command, for keying into the vision of the Service and for providing Osun with best services.
“As a nation and a people, we need all the talents, skills and competencies we can muster from all our people to move forward. It is therefore commendable that the Service is doing all within its power to put everyone in the service net.
“The New Office Complex we are inaugurating today is another chapter in the resolve of the Nigerian Correctional Service to provide improved services in contemporary Nigeria which seeks a viable place in a competitive world. The New Office Complex speaks to the resolve of the Service to compete in the knowledge- and technology-driven Century.
Earlier in his welcome remarks, the Controller General of NCoS, Haliru Nababa, mni, who expressed the service’s appreciation to members of National Assembly for their commitments to equipping the service for optimal performance, assured that the NCoS will justify the Federal Government gesture.
Other dignitaries at the event include the Ataoja of Osogbo, the representative of the Ooni of Ife, the Senator representing Osun Central, Senator Surajudeen Ajibola Bashiru, the Commissioner of Police in Osun, leaders and members of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Osun, market women and people from all walks of life.