The Federal Government made a bold step to decongest the Custodial Centres. Interior Minister Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo, on Saturday, launched the release of 4,068 inmates.

The inmates are those serving varied terms of imprisonment with an option of fine or compensation.

The launch took place at the Medium Security Custodial Centre in Kuje, Abuja.

Explaining the motive behind the initiative, he decried the overpopulation of the custodial facilities across the country.

He said the facilities with the installed capacity to accommodate a little above 50,000, currently hold approximately 80,804 inmates.

According to him, the overpopulation was overstretching the facilities, hence the need for the Federal Government’s strategic intervention through his ministry.

This release, targeting inmates with fines and/or compensations not exceeding N1 million naira, extends a lifeline primarily to indigents unable to settle their dues, allowing them a second chance at freedom.

Tunji-Ojo said: “Philanthropic individuals, groups, and corporate bodies rallied together, raising a total of N585 million for this noble cause.

“Moreover, it’s not just about freeing these individuals but empowering them for a successful reintegration into society. The inmates received comprehensive training covering practical skills, civic duties, and strategies to prevent recidivism, ensuring a more promising future upon their return to their communities.”

Tunji-Ojo highlighted the government’s commitment to transforming custodial and non-custodial facilities to align with international human rights standards and effective correctional practices, echoing President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s vision of Renewed Hope.

Commending the Nigerian Correctional Service for their dedication to ensuring humane custody and contributing to national security, the minister assured continued support for staff and inmates’ welfare, emphasizing the importance of a collective effort in the rehabilitation and reformation process.

He cautioned Nigerians against stigmatising the freed inmates, acknowledging that acceptance plays a pivotal role in preventing them from recommitting offences.

Tunji-Ojo said: “As we ceremoniously flagged off the release of these 4,068 inmates, I implored them to embrace this second chance, desist from criminal activities, and strive to become positive ambassadors contributing to the nation’s progress under the leadership of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu.

“The initiative signifies a crucial step towards creating a more humane and rehabilitative correctional system in Nigeria while emphasizing the importance of community support in reintegrating ex-offenders”.

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