The Federal Government, on Saturday, 13 May, 2023, restated its commitment to the welfare of inmates and officers at the custodial facilities nationwide.
The Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, made the statement while commissioning a 20-bed COVID-19 Crisis Intervention Fund Hospital and Equipment at the Maximum Security Custodial Centre Port Harcourt, Rivers State.
The project, according to the Minister, will be an enduring legacy and a testimony of the utmost importance the Federal Government has taken Corrections and the welfare of inmates and the staff.
Aregbesola stated that the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration has addressed the problem of inmates contracting diseases in custodial centres, as the inmates at the custodial centres now have access to excellent medical care beyond the centres.
“The custodial centres were frighteningly centres for contracting diseases like scabies and tuberculosis, among others. Happily, this has been addressed by the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration and is now a thing of the past. We not only have well-manned clinics and well stocked pharmacies, the inmates at the custodial centres now have access to excellent medical cares beyond the centres” he said.
While lamenting that the challenges of running correctional services are enormous, with huge demands for infrastructure, equipment and maintaining the welfare of inmates, the Interior Minister however assured that the Federal Government have provided long term solution to the challenge. He revealed that the Federal government spends N1,065,790 on maintaining each inmate per annum, reiterating his earlier announcement that the government will stop feeding inmates who are state offenders by the end of the year.
According to him, “This Maximum Security Custodial Centre in Port Harcourt, with a capacity for 1,800 inmates, presently houses about 3,067 inmates. This is just a reflection of the situation in most urban Custodial Centres where we have congestion at the moment. The facilities and even the personnel are overstretched, but we are coping and providing long term solutions to this challenge.
“One of such solutions is the construction of mega 3,000-capacity custodial villages in six geo-political zones of the country. The one for the South-South is in Bori, not far from here in Rivers State. The ones for the North West in Janguza, Kano and the North Central, in Karshi Abuja are ready. Hopefully, we shall commission the one in Kano in a few days, before our departure, even as work is steadily going on in the others and has reached appreciable level.
“Let me also reiterate that the Federal Government will stop feeding inmates incarcerated for breaching state laws. As you commence your budget process for next year, include feeding of your inmates,” he said.
Ogbeni Aregbesola added that the hospital, like several others, including the one commissioned in Osun last week, was built from the Covid-19 Crisis Special Intervention Fund of the Federal Government, and will go a long way in addressing the medical concerns of inmates and Correctional Service personnel as well.
While commending the management and staff of the NCoS for working hard to keep the virus away, he restated that the new hospital is a unique intervention aimed at making robust healthcare for those in custody as well as staff members, a pleasant reality.
“We celebrate how the NCoS, through professional responsiveness and hard work, triumphed over the COVID-19 pandemic, coming out clean without a single case of the virus finding its way into any of our custodial centres. On this, we were able to best even the most advanced countries whose custodial centres were thriving ground for Covid-19 incubation and transmission, with deaths running into thousands.
“Of significant note is the fact that all of these interventions in consonance with other reforms in the NCoS will obviously translate to security, peace and tranquillity in and around our Custodial Centres and ultimately for our country.”
Aregbesola commended the Controller General of the Nigerian Correctional Service, Haliru Nababa, for the good work he is doing and the quality leadership he is providing at the Service. He also encouraged him and his management team to sustain the tempo of progress and do more to actualise the noble provisions of the NCoS Act, 2019.
On his part, the Controller General of the Nigeria Correctional Service, Haliru Nababa, mni, thanked the Federal Government for its support to the Service, saying the facility will take care of the needs of the inmate, staff and the host community alike.
“As a Service, Inmates’ welfare is not only a matter of priority but a statutory responsibility that is key to the general peace and tranquillity experienced all over our custodial centre.
“This hospital that we are commissioning today will go a long way in helping the service fulfill its statutory responsibility to the inmate, the staff and the host community,” the CG stated.
Speaking on behalf of the host community, Council Chairman of the Bunduama Community, Evangelist Dasika George, JP, thanked the Minister for the hospital and the opportunity given to members of the community to benefit from its services, declaring him the ‘best minister’ of the Buhari administration.
“We thank our performing minister, in fact, the best minister in the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, for citing this project in our community and giving us the privilege to use it as well. We thank you, but please don’t stop here.
“We still need water, electricity transformers, adequate street, adequate drainage system amongst other social amenities,” the Elders Council Chairman requested.
Senior officers of the service and other security agencies in the state attended the event. After the event, the Minister proceeded to inspect the maximum custodial faculty just beside the newly commissioned clinic, before proceeding for an inspection tour of the 3,000-capacity Bori Custodial Centre still under construction