In a groundbreaking move towards prison reform, the Federal Government has announced a staggering allocation of N22.4 billion from the 2023 Appropriation Act for the purpose of feeding inmates in correctional facilities across states in Nigeria.
The revelation was made by Dr. Shuaib Belgore, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Interior, during a two-day High Conference on Decongestion and Corrections Management held in Abuja.
With a staggering budget of N22.4 billion allocated for the feeding of inmates in 2023, concerns about overcrowding and delayed justice have taken center stage.
Dr. Belgore emphasized that a staggering 80% of the inmates currently held in these centres are awaiting trial, causing severe overcrowding.
He further emphasized that out of the 244 custodial centers scattered across the country, a staggering 82 of them are deemed overcrowded due to the 75,507-inmate population.
Delving into the statistics, Dr. Belgore shared that the male inmate population stands at 73,821, while 1,686 females find themselves in custodial care.
Among the total inmate count, 52,436 individuals are awaiting trial, anxiously awaiting their day in court, while 23,071 have been convicted of crimes.
Tragically, a staggering number of 3,322 individuals find themselves confined to death row, their lives dangerously held in the balance.
Belgore also hinted on the need to construct new facilities and revamp the bail system.
“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,” he said.