THE Federal government spends N1 million annually catering for each inmate at the correctional facilities in the country, says the minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola.
Aregbesola said the control of correctional services with enormous demands for infrastructure, equipment and maintaining the welfare of inmates has been a considerable challenge for the government.
According to a statement issued by his spokesperson, Sola Fure, on Saturday, May 13, the minister said this while inaugurating a 20-bed COVID-19 Crisis Intervention Fund Hospital, with Equipment at the Maximum Security Custodial Centre in Port Harcourt.
Aregbesola said the prison facilities and personnel across the country were overstretched as most facilities accommodate inmates beyond their capacities.
“This centre in Port Harcourt, with a capacity for 1,800 inmates, presently houses about 3,067 inmates. This is just a reflection of the situation in most urban custodial centres where we currently have congestion.
“The facilities – and even the personnel – are overstretched, but we are coping and providing long-term solutions to this challenge. One such solution is the construction of mega 3,000-capacity custodial villages in six geo-political zones of the country. The one for the South-South is in Bori, not far from here in Rivers,” he said.
He pointed out the need to address the spread of viruses among inmates in custodial centres, while noting that the government was making efforts to resolve the problem.
“The custodial centres were frightening centres for contracting diseases like scabies and tuberculosis, among others.
“Happily, this has been addressed by the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration and is now a thing of the past.
“We not only have well-manned clinics and well-stocked pharmacies, the inmates at the custodial centres now have access to excellent medical care beyond the centres,” he added.
The minister reiterated that the Federal government would stop feeding state offenders in correctional centres nationwide from January 1, 2024.
Aregbesola said state governments would provide food for inmates in correctional centres in their states from 2024, as 90 per cent of inmates in the country were state offenders.
He asked state governments to include the feeding of their inmates in federal facilities in their budgets and to start building state-owned custodial centres.
Reported that the Federal government approved N22.44 billion in 2023 to feed prison inmates.
The approved sum for feeding inmates is over 1 per cent of the 2023 budget, which is 21.83 trillion, much of which will be funded by international loans.
The authorities blame the huge amount partly on the increasing number of inmates in custodial facilities nationwide.