The Minister of Interior, Mr Rauf Aregbesola, said a total of 465 inmates have enrolled into various degree programmes including Criminology, Security Studies, Political Science and others.
The minister, who stated this during the inauguration of 53 operational vehicles purchased for the Nigerian Correctional Service (NCoS) in Abuja, on Tuesday, said the inmates enrolled under the NCoS educational and self-improvement programme.
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Aregbesola noted that the NCoS had recorded unprecedented rise in the number of inmates studying, saying 23 of them are currently undergoing Post Graduate Programmes comprising one PhD; 16 Masters Degree; and six Post Graduate Diploma Programmes.
“In addition, 1,404 wrote SSCE and 634 passed with five credits, including English and Mathematics, while 4,757 enrolled for Adult Education programme and 1,162 graduated,” he said.
The minister complained that the service had a deluge of Awaiting Trial Persons (ATPs) as against convicts.
“Currently, about 70 per cent of the total inmates’ population are awaiting trial.
“The implication of this scenario is huge logistics demand to convey the inmates to court as at when due.
“Over time, the plight of pre-trial detainees, manifested in slow justice delivery which is sometimes due to the insufficiency of vehicles to cover court appearances, inexorably leading to delayed justice, which as the saying goes, is denied justice,” he said
“Over 4,000 inmates freed”
Aregbesola said, to decongest the prison, over 4,000 inmates have been freed nationwide so far under the Federal Government Amnesty Programme launched in 2020.
“The absence of quick dispensation of justice has been a major drawback to operational efficiency in offenders’ management, often precipitating agitations, jailbreaks as well as escape tendencies, which the authorities have to manage with great pain and huge cost.
“Apart from this, other essential and routine services like taking inmates to the hospital during emergencies, sewage disposal, supply of potable water and so on require steady functional logistics, which were grossly inadequate.
“This unacceptable situation caught the attention of President Muhammadu Buhari whose change agenda is targeted at improving the quality of lives of all Nigerians, including those behind bars.
“He graciously approved an increase in budgetary provision to the Service, which has been sustained till date, necessitating our gathering today.
“Now, the decongestion of our custodial centres has made more than 4,000 inmates gain freedom through the Federal Government Amnesty Programme,” he said.
Speaking at the event, the Controller General, NCoS, Mr Ja’afaru Ahmed, said its the fifth inauguration of the operational vehicles since he assumed office.
“We have so far purchased 504 operational vehicles in which 219 were purchased in 2016, 49 in 2017, 129 in 2018, 54 in 2019 and 53 in 2020. And the 53 are the ones we are inaugurating today,” he said.
Ahmed pointed out that the major challenge of the service was taking inmates to court, which according to him had added to congestion of custodial centres.