The Federal Government has flagged off the payment N585 million release fine for 4,000 inmates as part of its effort to decongest the correctional facility in the country. This was disclosed by the Minister of Interior, Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo, on Saturday while flagging off the initiative at Kuje prison, in Abuja.
Tunji-Ojo said that inmates who have fines not exceeding N1 million are qualified to benefit from the ministry’s initiative. According to him, the number of these inmates is about 4,068.
He said the initiative will promote the decongestion of the correctional facility and mitigate against overdue detention of inmates due to lack of bail funds.
“It’s with great pleasure that I stand with you today to flag off the release of 4,068 inmates sentenced to various terms of imprisonment with the option of fine and compensation in custodial status nationwide. This is in a bid to decongest custodial centres as well as make ready proper reformation and rehabilitation of offenders to take place.
“As of yesterday, the 17th of November 2023, there were about 8804 inmates in 253 custodial facilities nationwide with a total installed capacity of less than 50,000. It shows that our custodial centres are overcrowded, necessitating this initiative we are flagging off today,” he said.
Furthermore, the Minister also noted that the government will not be funding the program by itself, but will be funded through a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiative from private sector players and philanthropists nationwide.
“Most of the inmates are indigents who cannot afford to pay their fine languishing in custody. The total fund of N585 million was raised by cooperate bodies as Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) for this purpose. Hence, all inmates in custodial centres who have fines or compensation not exceeding 1 million are qualified and will benefit from this gesture. In addition, we are also providing each of them a stipend to enable them to stand in their community,” he added.
Earlier in October, the Minister of Interior confirmed that the federal government will pay N500 million as a bail fine for 4,000 inmates in custodial facilities whose bail term does not exceed N1 million.
He confirmed this while featuring on Arise TV.
He assured that the fines would be cleared and the inmates would be released in the next four weeks.
The minister added that the ministry pulled the funds together through “dealing with the private sector in terms of CSR”.