In a significant move to alleviate congestion in correctional facilities across the country, the Federal Government has commenced the payment of a total release fine of N585 million for 4,000 inmates.
The initiative, flagged off by the Minister of Interior, Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo, took place at Kuje prison in Abuja.
Minister Tunji-Ojo highlighted that inmates with fines not exceeding N1 million are eligible for this program, encompassing approximately 4,068 individuals.
The primary objective is to expedite the decongestion of correctional facilities and address prolonged detentions resulting from the lack of bail funds.
During the announcement, Tunji-Ojo expressed the urgency of this initiative, emphasizing the overcrowded state of custodial centers nationwide. As of November 17, 2023, there were 8,804 inmates across 253 custodial facilities, surpassing the total installed capacity of less than 50,000.
Importantly, the Minister clarified that the funding for this program would not solely come from the government but would be sourced through a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiative involving private sector entities and philanthropists nationwide.
“The total fund of N585 million was raised by corporate bodies as Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) for this purpose,” stated Tunji-Ojo. He further highlighted the financial constraints faced by many inmates, describing them as indigents unable to pay fines and languishing in custody. In addition to the release fine, each eligible inmate will receive a stipend to support their reintegration into the community.
This comprehensive effort aims not only to reduce overcrowding in custodial facilities but also to promote the proper reformation and rehabilitation of offenders.
The Minister’s announcement underscores a collaborative approach involving both public and private sectors to address challenges within the correctional system.