The Federal Government has instructed state Controllers of Corrections to reject inmates when they don’t have the capacity to accommodate them.
The Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Interior, Dr Shuaib Belgore, gave this directive while speaking at the decoration ceremony of newly promoted senior officers of the Nigerian Correctional Services (NCoS) in Abuja on Wednesday.
While noting that the custodial centres had witnessed an upsurge of inmates in recent years, he said the Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola, had kick-started a stakeholder engagement to proffer solutions to the congestion of correctional facilities across the nation.
The Permanent Secretary said the effort had been boosted by the building of new facilities in Kano and Karshi in the Federal Capital Territory.
He said: “May I also remind the Controller-General to direct all Controllers in charge of correctional facilities across Nigeria to implement the Minister’s directive to decongest the facilities as stipulated in the NCoS Act.
“Let me buttress this point with the Nigerian Correctional Service Act 2019, section 12 subsection (8) as amended, which states and I quote: ‘Without prejudice to subsection (4), the State Controller of Correctional Service in conjunction with the Superintendent shall have the power to reject more intakes of inmates where it is apparent that the Correctional Centre in question is filled to capacity’.
“I will therefore advise you to be guided by the provision of the Act with a view to ensuring that our Correctional Centres are decongested as the ongoing construction of facilities across the country will ultimately make this task achievable.
“It is also of note that three-quarters of inmates are awaiting trial which in my opinion constitutes largely to the problem of congestion of correctional centres.
“May I, therefore, urge the Controller-General to work with state governments to speedily dispense justice, and also to work on modalities that would address minor offences committed by inmates which should not have kept them behind bars for so long.”
While congratulating the promoted officers, he reminded them that their elevation to new ranks placed higher responsibilities on them.
“You must see this new achievement as a challenge to not only offer more service to your employer and the nation at large but also to see yourself as a role model to younger officers,” he added.
In his welcome address, the Controller General of Corrections, Haliru Nababa, said 13 senior officers were promoted to the rank of Assistant Controllers General of Corrections (ACG) and 57 to the rank of Controllers of Corrections (CC).
He said their elevation would help them to inject fresh ideas and reinvigorate the NCoS workforce for optimal performance.
Earlier, 30 newly procured duty operational vehicles were commissioned to enhance the operational efficiency of the Service.
“These vehicles will surely scale up our ability as a Service, to provide the first line of protective security required for the fulfilment of our primary mandate,” the CG said.