The Custodial Centres of the Nigerian Correctional Service (NCoS) have overshot their combined carrying capacity of 58,278 by over 16, 000, a development that has continued to fuel aggression among inmates and overstretched the system.
Speaking at the Second Controller-General of Corrections’ Retreat held in Sokoto, the Controller General of Corrections (CGC), Haliru Nababa, explained that the retreat aims to draw and outline a five-year direction for the service in line with the Ministerial retreat held in Ilorin 2021.
He said: “The NCoS maintains 244 facilities, including 20 farm centres, 10 cottage industries, one open camp, and four Borstal training institutions."
“The current capacity of Nigerian Custodial Centres stands at 58,278 as against the population of over 75, 000 inmates." In recent times, the Nigerian Custodial Centres have experienced incessant attacks which were externally organized and executed. Drawing from the above explanations, the NCoS has taken the following measures:
The formation and activation of the NCoS Rapid Response Team; intelligence sharing with other security agencies as well as increasing their presence across Nigerian Custodial Centres; and, sensitizing and encouraging state governments to implement non-custodial measures.
“Scaling up the capacity of the Armed Squad and Intelligence personnel in the use of high-calibre weaponry and intelligence gathering."
“Digitization of the Service via the E-corrections platform; establishment of additional staff training institutions and the upgrading of existing ones." Leveraging the Public-Private Partnership window, the provision of 3000-capacity ultra-modern custodial centres across the six geopolitical zones.
“Improve inmates’ participation in educational programmes with over 970 undergoing various academic programmes via the National Open University of Nigeria, NOUN."
Over 14,101 inmates have acquired proficiency certificates in various probations, while over 3,730 inmates have received start-up tools under the NCoS Aftercare support programme.
“Nigerian Custodial Centres remain Covid–19 protocols compliant and have not recorded any cases so far.”
The Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, made the call at the opening of a two-day retreat for senior management of the service in Sokoto, Sokoto State. He said strategies and deliberations at the retreat should be cantered around solutions to recapturing all escaped inmates to safeguard communities that may become prey to criminal activities of escaped inmates.
In a statement, Media Adviser to the minister, Mr. Sola Fasure, in a statement, said Aregbesola, “also noted with dismay, the negative impact of the #EndSARS protests, which later turned violence, leading to attacks of custodial facilities, which gave rise to the attacks on the facilities.”
He said: “Retreats are for bonding, contemplating purpose, and setting future goals,” and a major issue that must be considered during the retreat is the decongestion of custodial facilities.
He pointed out that during the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, “one of the policies we quickly put in place then was the decongestion programme under which thousands of inmates were released on compassionate grounds."
“The follow up to that is the consideration that we should find further ways to keep decongesting our facilities." We started work on the idea of compiling a list of convicted inmates serving light terms for not too serious offences, who were in custody because they could not pay their fines”.