In its effort to ensure decongestion of Correctional Facilities, Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola declared that the amended Act on Correctional Service had allowed state governments to establish their correctional facilities in their respective states.
The Minister stated this during a high level conference on Decongestion and Correction Administration organised by Ministry of Interior at Intercontinental Hotel, Abuja. He reiterated that the amendment of the act was premised on the need to drive a reform of the country’s custodial facilities anchored on reformation and development of inmates.
He encouraged state governments through their State Attorney General and Commissioners of Justice and Chief Judges of the states present at the event, to establish their Custodial facilities as ascended by President President Muhammadu Buhari
Aregbesola, drew attention on the gloomy picture of the present conditions of the country’s custodial facilities which he confessed is not delivering the needed rehabilitation and reformations needed to the inmates.
He assured the reforms would decongest the country’s custodial facilities and bring in efficient, effective and sustainable solutions for viable and achievable results which would be susceptible to decency in the lives of inmates after serving their terms as it will contribute to the development of his community and the country at large.
Aregbesola decried the level of congestion at the facilities which he alluded were largely state offenders, who found themselves on cases of inability to settle their debts and fines ranging between five thousand and above, or refusal to observed sanitation laws, with high cost to the expenditure of the Ministry in feeding and other essentials needs for the inmates.
He further expressed displeasure on the continuing rise in the number of awaiting inmates on trial in the custodial facilities which he alluded that some of them have stayed more than double period they ought to have served if convicted.
In his goodwill message the Chief Justice of Nigeria Justice Olukayode Ariwoola, commended the bold step taken by federal government to initiate the reforms through current Minister of Interior Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola which he described as first of its kind and timely by the management of Ministry of Interior
Adding that the situation at hand in the administration of Justice in the country is “perilous, as its threaten our national security because we all live in denial of the current situation of the rots in the administration of Justice in Nigeria
Justice Ariwoola called on National Assembly to preoccupy themselves in making people’s centric laws with patriotism and fear of God that would reflect the current reality globally.
The Permanent Secretary Ministry of Interior Dr. Shuaib Belgore in his welcome address said that the essence of the conference is to propose efficient, effective and sustainable solutions to tackle the decongestion of the Custodian Centres whilst aiming at viable and achievable results which are action driven.
He added that the gathering also seeks to promote effective implementation of non- custodial measures, strategies to reform, rehabilitate and reintegrate inmates into the society.
Belgore recommended that all possibilities should be considered to address the problems of decongestion for better administration of criminal justice and that monthly visitation and inspection of custodial centres by the judiciary is a necessity for full implementation of non- custodial measures.
Some states Chief Judges, Attorney Generals and Commissioners of Justice that graced the occasion lend their voices in commending the Ministry for the reform and pledged to be part of the success story.
Afonja Fatai Ajibola