The Minister said efforts are underway to decongest correctional facilities across the country.
The Minister of Interior, Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo, has revealed that over 4,000 Nigerians currently held up in custodial centres across the country are rotting in jail over their inability to pay fines.
The Minister explained that the situation has persisted because the inmates could not settle fines pronounced against them by judges and magistrates.
He made the disclosure when he hosted the European Union Ambassador to Nigeria and West Africa, Samuela Isopi, at his office in Abuja on Saturday, September 23, 2023.
The Minister sought the union’s support for various reforms currently undertaken by the Ministry of Interior.
“We have over 4000 inmates in the facilities for their inability to pay various fines. We believe we can reduce the number of inmates in our correctional facilities by about forty per cent if we explore non-custodial alternatives as provided for in the Correctional Service Act,” Tunji-Ojo was quoted as saying.
The Minister solicited the assistance of the EU for the effective implementation of key reforms in areas of migration and the reformation of Nigeria’s correctional centres.
He said the bloc could support the country in deploying technology to buffer and enhance border management architecture within the country.
“The European Union is important to the socio-economic development of Nigeria. Our relationship with the EU is historical in terms, of but not limited to, bilateral support.
“If we are able to solve crime and migration problems in Nigeria, Africa will be better for it. Due to the boundaries Africa shares with the EU, our problems are more of an EU problem than any other part of the world. And, because we are committed to solving this, we will explore all avenues,” Tunji-Ojo told Isopi.
While speaking on plans to decongest correctional facilities across the country, the Minister revealed that a large chunk of inmates are awaiting trial.
“Over 70 per cent of the 79,000 inmates are awaiting trial,” he said.