The Nigerian government has announced the release of almost 4,000 convicts in order to relieve prison congestion.
Interior Minister Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo said those released were convicts who had been imprisoned for failing to pay penalties.
What the minister said
During the commencement of the program on Saturday at the Kuje Medium Correctional Center, Abuja, the Interior Minister disclosed that the release was aimed at decongesting Nigeria’s prison facilities.
He also noted that the release was made possible by individuals, groups, and corporate bodies.
The Interior Minister stated that prisoners with outstanding debts of less than a million Naira are going to benefit from the program.
“It is with great pleasure that I stand with you today to flag off the release of 4068 people sentenced to various terms of imprisonment with the option of a fine and compensation in custodial status nationwide,” said the interior minister.
“This is our bid to decongest the custodian centers and make them humane for proper reformation and rehabilitation of offenders.”
He also mentioned that it was part of President Bola Tinubu’s aim to increase non-custodial punishments. According to the United Nations, Nigeria’s prisons are now working at more than double their total capacity. Suspects are sometimes held in jail for years before being tried.
Tunji-Ojo additionally added that “as of yesterday, there were about 80,804 custodial facilities nationwide, and the total installed capacity of 253 custodial facilities adds up to less than 50,000.”
Back in October, Tunji-Ojo stated that over 4,000 detainees imprisoned in detention facilities throughout the country were unable to pay N500 million in penalties. The minister promised that the penalties would be paid and the detainees would be released within four weeks.
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