THE Federal Government has said it will spend N22.44 billion to feed prison inmates in 2023.
Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Interior, Shuaib Belgore, disclosed this in Abuja on Thursday, May 11, while calling for the reform of correctional facilities in Nigeria.
“The Federal Government budgeted N22.44 billion in the 2023 appropriation to cater for the feeding of inmates.
“There is the need for holistic Corrections reforms, including the modernisation of custodial centres to ensure the reformation and rehabilitation of inmates. Stakeholders have stressed the need to build new facilities and redesign the bail system to actualise why we are here today,” Belgore said.
He decried the rising number of inmates awaiting trial in Nigerian custodial facilities.
In 2021, the Senate Committee on Interior increased the daily feeding allowance for the Nigerian Correctional Service (NCS) from N450 per person to a minimum of N1,000 per day, based on current economic realities.
Senator representing Rivers West Betty Apiafi moved the motion for the increment, arguing that N450 was inadequate to feed adults in a day.
Some lawyers and ex-prison inmates criticised the move to increase the funds, saying corruption would hinder the utilisation of the budgeted sum for the proposed feeding.
The approved sum for feeding inmates makes up over 1 per cent of the 2023 budget which is 21.83 trillion, much of which will be funded by international loans.
Belgore noted on Thursday that the huge amount was further influenced by the increasing number of inmates in custodial facilities across the country.
In 2022, the Federal Government said 75 per cent of inmates in Nigerian custodial centres are awaiting trial.
Minister of Interior Rauf Aregbesola had said the high number of inmates was placing custodial facilities across the country under much pressure and described it as a great challenge.
Aregbesola called for the release of at least 30 per cent of inmates awaiting trail in 2022, a situation which could reduce the costs of maintaining custodial centres in Nigeria.