The Minister of Interior in Nigeria, Dr. Olubunmi Tunji Ojo, has announced that the Federal Government will cover the fines of more than 4,000 inmates, amounting to over five hundred million naira, to facilitate their release from overcrowded correctional facilities.
Dr. Tunji Ojo shared that he has established committees to investigate the causes of prison congestion in Nigeria and develop strategies to alleviate the issue. Speaking to Arise TV, he emphasized the number of inmates still detained due to their inability to pay fines. He also highlighted the progress made in collaborating with the private sector to fund these payments.
He stated, “Within the next four weeks, we aim to settle the fines for over 4,000 individuals, reducing the current inmate population from almost 79,000 to around 75,000. This effort requires not only the involvement of the Ministry of Interior but also an inter-ministerial approach, including coordination with the Office of the Attorney General, Prince Lateef Fagbemi.”
Furthermore, Dr. Tunji Ojo revealed plans to activate non-custodial responsibilities within correctional facilities to ease congestion. This initiative aligns with the Ministry of Interior’s mandate and aims to reduce the number of inmates held in facilities designed for a much smaller capacity. The minister emphasized the urgency of addressing this issue, particularly in the Lagos command, where the inmate population has more than doubled the intended capacity.
Once implemented, these measures are expected to decrease prison congestion by approximately 60%-70%. Dr. Tunji Ojo also emphasized the ministry’s responsibility in securing Nigeria’s borders, recognizing the significance of border protection for national security.
To address this, an inter-agency committee has been established, comprising representatives from the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC), the Nigeria Immigration Service, the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps, and the Boundary Commission. This collaborative effort will ensure a comprehensive approach to border security and territorial integrity.