The Nigeria Correctional Service (NCoS) said it is on the trail of over 3,000 inmates who are still at large having escaped during the various attacks on its custodial centres in the year 2021.
Several custodial centres from Oyo, Owerri to Jos and others were attacked by violent terror gangs in the last 12 months with thousands of inmates escaping their cells. However, the Service, in collaboration with sister agencies had rearrested many of those who initially escaped.
Spokesman of the Service, CC Francis Enobore disclosed this in Abuja during a briefing.
Flanked by the Principal Staff Officer PSO to the Controller General of Corrections, DC Mamman Salisu, the spokesperson also put the total inmate population at 69, 901 out of which 19, 667 are convicts and 49, 234 as awaiting trial.
“As of Monday December 27, 2021, 71 percent of inmates are awaiting trial, while 29 percent are convicted inmates. 68, 901 as total inmate population, 19, 667 are convicts, while 49, 234 are. awaiting trial”, Enobore said.
He lauded the federal government for the increase in the cost of feeding inmates saying; “The approved cost of feeding in Custodial Centres is N750 per inmate per day, an increase from N450 per day”. The figure would translate to about N51,675,750 spent in feeding the entire inmate population daily.
Speaking further, he said; “Of significant recognition is the activation of the Non-Custodial Measures which has since 2019 appreciably reduced influx of persons into Custodial Centres.
“From inception to date about 31,963 minor offenders have served their sentences through non-custodial measures thus reducing inmates’ population by that number. Another intervention is the Virtual court room system introduced to Medium Security Custodial Centre MSCC Kuje by the Federal Ministry of Justice to enhance speedy trial of suspects in custody”.
According to him, the NCoS is poised and ever ready to boldly confront emerging threats, knowing that no institution is immune to challenges.
“Infact, NCoS believes in the theory that ‘the difference between stumbling blocks and stepping stones is how you use them’ in other words, there are always lessons to draw from every trying moment. Through the bumpy paths, twists and turns, we have come out stronger and the better for it.
“The Service has come up with a good number of strategies to contain the spate of attacks on Custodial Centres and neutralize any threat to security. These include robust strategic engagements with sister security agencies for reinforcement, entreaties to government for increased budgetary provision and continuous recruitment of personnel, deployment of technology, harmonization of inmates’ biometrics, improved staff welfare, infrastructure upgrade, capacity building and lots more.
” The National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN) has 12 Special Study Centres in locations across the country with 2 more to be commissioned in the first quarter of 2022. A total of 970 inmates are currently studying various courses at diploma, undergraduate, post graduate with 5 at PhD levels.
“In terms of vocational skills acquisition for inmates, a lot of workshops across different Custodial Centres in the country have remained functional, producing scores of artisans. This is further strengthened by the Service’s After-Care Scheme that help settle inmates after discharge. Just recently, an ex-inmate of Billiri Custodial Centre in Gombe State has so far trained over 134 youths in his community with designing and knitting skills he learnt while in custody. Some of the trainees are now self-employed and many others currently serving under him as apprentices.
“I therefore implore you as gate keepers of the society, to help sensitize members of the public to accept ex-offenders who have been reformed as responsible brothers and sisters. Incarceration does not in any way, sign post total damnation. That is why we have had two inmates emerging as best graduating student of NOUN in 2014 and 2018 respectively In 2021, an inmate in Kuje Custodial Centre graduated with a Second Class Upper Division (2:1) in Criminology”, he stated.