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Prison congestion: FG urges states to build holding centres for awaiting trial suspects

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[FILES] Minister of the Interior, Rauf Aregbesola. Photo; TWITTER/RAUFAAREFBESOLA/OGUNDIRANDOLAPO


The Federal Government has called for the cooperation of state governments in addressing the challenges of congestion in custodial facilities across the country.

To this end, it has urged states to build holding centres for awaiting trial suspects. The Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Adesoji Aregbesola, stated this yesterday at the commissioning of the Osun State Command office complex of the Nigerian Correctional Service (NCoS), Osogbo.

Aregbesola, in his address titled, ‘Unmatched Infrastructure Development’, revealed 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.”

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He explained that 50,992 inmates, representing 74 per cent of the total population of inmates in the custodial centres were awaiting trial inmates while only 17,755 inmates, which is 26 per cent are actual convicts.

While lamenting prison overcrowding, the minister urged state governments to work with the Federal Government to address the challenge, noting that an overwhelming majority of inmates in custody were state offenders being tried by their respective state governments.

Aregbesola, who spoke on the various measures taken by President Muhammadu Buhari towards decongesting custodial facilities in the country, urged state governments to accelerate the wheel of justice, adding that a lot of inmates have been in custody for a period longer than the maximum sentence their alleged offences carry.

“State governments should 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.

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“State governors should 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. There are presently 3,008 condemned criminals consisting of 2,952 males and 56 females,” he revealed.

Aregbesola commended the Controller General, Haliru Nababa, officers and men of the NCoS for their service.
He thanked President Muhammadu Buhari for his generous disposition towards the Ministry of Interior and the four agencies under it, while also appreciating the government and people of Osun State for freely donating the land for the structure and other assistance to the NCoS.

Speaking, Osun State Governor, represented by the Secretary to the State Government, Prince Oyebamiji Oluwole, commended the Federal Government and the NCoS for providing a conducive environment for the staff, adding that it would encourage and boost staff moral in effective service delivery.

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