By Deborah Oladejo, Osogbo
The Federal Government has called for the cooperation of state governments in addressing the challenges of congestion in custodial facilities across the country.
The Minister of Interior, Mr. Rauf Aregbesola, made the call at the commissioning of the Osun State Command office complex of the Nigerian Correctional Service, Osogno on Friday.
He noted that the overwhelming majority of offenders are state offenders being tried by their respective state governments.
Aregbesola in his address titled: ‘Unmatched Infrastructure Development’, ssid: “The entire national custodial facilities have a maximum capacity for 57,278 inmates.
“But by the last count earlier in the week, there is a total population of 68,747 inmates, made up of 67,422 males and 1,325 females.”
He stated further that 50,992 inmates, representing 74 per cent of the total population of inmates in the custodial centres are awaiting trial while only 17,755 inmates or 26 per cent are actual convicts.
Aregbesola then urged state governments to assist in accelerating the wheel of justice as a lot of inmates have been in custody for a period longer than the maximum sentence their alleged offences carry.
He also charged them to join in building modern holding centres as well as set aside a sum for the maintenance of inmates, while the service will provide the personnel to man and run the facilities efficiently.
The former Osun State Governor who disclosed that there are presently 3,008 condemned criminals consisting of 2,952 males and 56 females, tasked state governors to summon the will to do the needful on death row convicts and bring closure to their cases.
“Set some others free on compassionate ground, especially those who have grown old on account of a long time in custody, those who are terminally ill and those who have been reformed and demonstrated exceptionally good behaviour; and commute others’ sentences to life or a specific terms in jail,” added.
He said the Federal Government was building a 3,000 high-capacity custodial centre in Kano and Rivers states as well as Abuja.
Aregbesola added that this would be extended to the six geo-political zones in the country and that it would ease congestion considerably and enhance the capacity to manage the facilities for corrections.
Governor Gboyega Oyetola who was, represented by the Secretary to the Government, Prince Oyebamiji Oluwole, commended the Federal Government and the Nigerian Correctional Service (NCOS) for providing a conducive environment for the staff adding that it will encourage and boost staff morale as regards effective service delivery.
The Speaker of the Osun State House of Assembly, Rt Hon Timothy Owoeye, in his goodwill message commended Aregbesola for his passion for infrastructure development in the state and urged him not to relent in his efforts.
Earlier in his welcome remarks, the Controller General of NCoS, Haliru Nababa, mni, who expressed the service’s appreciation to members of National Assembly for their commitments to equipping the service for optimal performance, assured that NCoS will justify the Federal Government gesture.