The Federal Government has given approval for the construction of 3,000 capacity custodian centres across the country in the six geo-political zones to tackle the scourge of overcrowded correctional centres.
Minister of interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola made the disclosure to members of the Order of the Knights of St. Mulumba (Nigeria), the Lagos Metropolitan Council, and other participants at the one-day Policy Advocacy Conference on Decongestion of Correctional Centres, held to mark the 60th anniversary of the Council, in Lagos, yesterday.
Aregbesola said the Nigeria Correctional Service (NCOS) mandate is to rehabilitate and reintegrate inmates back into society and regretted that the Service has no power to reject inmates or release them at will or determine their length of stay only until after adjudication through the judicial system. He stated that the Service has been doing all possible and collaborating with bodies such as St. Mulumba, on the ways to decongest the centre.
The minister, who was represented by his Special Adviser on Nigeria Correctional Services, Suleiman Tala, stated that the NCOS has been carrying out its core mandate religiously, especially in the area of rehabilitation and preparations for life after incarceration, saying some 3,000 inmates are currently undergoing different degrees programmes with the National Open University, while 50 others are studying various programmes for National Certificate of Education.
He applauded the NCOS for successfully containing COVID-19, considering the high risk potential of the centres.
He commended the Order of the Knight of St. Mulumba for the well thought out conference and urged civil society and faith-based organisations to emulate them and play critical roles in rendering services to inmates of the NCOS, through offering pro Bono cases, and paying fees for less offenders.