The Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, has called on the Nigeria Correctional Service (NCoS) to spare no effort in ensuring that all escaped inmates are arrested and brought back into custody.
Sola Fasure, a media aide to the Minister said in a statement that the minister made the call at the opening of a two-day retreat for senior management of the service in Sokoto, Sokoto State on Monday.
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Many inmates are still on the run after coordinated attacks on custodial facilities in many states of the country that started in 2020.
He said the strategies and deliberations at the retreat should be centred around solutions for recapturing all escaped inmates to safeguard communities that may become prey to criminal activities of escaped inmates.
Aregbesola urged that as the officers deliberate, strategize and set targets for the next five years, they must ensure that the biodata of all inmates is harmonised with sister agencies, the Nigeria Financial Unit (NFIU), all banks and the INTERPOL to track all escaped inmates.
He said: “It is also very important to have their fingerprints, pictures and other details you have with you to be harmonised with them.
“Retreats are for bonding, contemplating purpose and setting future goals” and a major issue that must be considered during this retreat is the decongestion of custodial facilities.”
He pointed out that during the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, “one of the policies we quickly put in place then was the decongestion programme under which thousands of inmates were released on compassionate ground.”
“The follow-up to that is the consideration that we should find further ways to keep decongesting our facilities.
“We started work on the idea of compiling the list of convicted inmates serving light terms for not too serious offences, who were in custody because they could not pay their fines”
Meanwhile, the Controller General of the service, Haliru Nababa, has said that the two-day retreat will not only afford the hierarchy of the agency the opportunity to re-strategise and bond towards efficiency in service delivery, it also serves to provide a clear perception of set targets.
He said the current capacity of the 244 custodial facilities in the country stands at 58,278 as against the population of 75,000 inmates it now holds, leading to congestion of inmates, worsened by recent incessant attacks which were externally organised and executed.
While declaring the retreat open, the Governor of Sokoto State, Alh. Aminu Tambuwal, who was represented by his deputy, Manir Dan’iya, stated that his government will continue to support the NCoS in achieving its goal of reforming and rehabilitating its inmate.