Federal Minister of Interior, Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo, declared the kickoff of an initiative at Kuje prison in Abuja, releasing 4,068 inmates by clearing fines up to N1 million per inmate.
Tunji-Ojo emphasized the necessity to decongest correctional facilities and stressed the humanitarian impact of the initiative, stating, “It’s with great pleasure that I stand with you today to flag off the release of 4,068 inmates sentenced to various terms of imprisonment with the option of fine and compensation in custodial status nationwide.”
Highlighting the severe overcrowding issue in custodial centers, Tunji-Ojo disclosed that as of November 17, 2023, there were approximately 8,804 inmates across 253 facilities nationwide, surpassing the designed capacity of less than 50,000.
He further outlined that the funding, totaling N585 million, stemmed from a Corporate Social Responsibility initiative involving contributions from corporate bodies and philanthropists nationwide.
Addressing the financial constraints faced by many inmates, the Minister emphasized, “Most of the inmates are indigents who cannot afford to pay their fine languishing in custody. The total fund of N585 million was raised by corporate bodies as Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) for this purpose.”
This announcement follows the Minister’s earlier confirmation in October regarding the Federal Government’s commitment to paying N500 million in bail fines for 4,000 inmates, assuring their release within four weeks.
Tunji-Ojo reiterated the collaboration with the private sector through CSR, underscoring the concerted effort to address the critical issue of overcrowded correctional facilities in the country.