By Bukar Bolori
The Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola has called on the Nigeria Correctional Service (NCoS) to spare no effort at ensuring that all escaped inmates are arrested and brought back into custody.
The minister made the call at the opening of a two-day retreat for senior management of the service in Sokoto, Sokoto State on Monday.
He said the strategies and deliberations at the retreat should be centered around solutions on recapturing all escaped inmates to safeguard communities who may become prey to criminal activities of escaped inmates.
The minister, also noted with dismay, the negative impact of the #EndSARS protests which later turned violent leading to attacks of custodial facilities which gave rise to the attacks on the facilities.
He said “Retreats are for bonding, contemplating purpose and setting future goals” and a major issue that must be considered during the this retreat is the decongestion of custodial facilities.
He pointed that during the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, “one of the policies we quickly put in place then was the decongestion programme under which thousands of inmates were released on compassionate ground.”The follow up to that is the consideration that we should find further ways to keep decongesting our facilities. We started work on the idea of compiling the list of convicted inmates serving light terms for not too serious offences, who were in custody because they could not pay their fines”
While commending the service for being able to manage the centres during the pandemic without recording a single infection, Aregbesola said the agency did a good job of keeping the virus away and must continue to keep the facilities safe and sound from inside and out.
Continuing, he urged that as the officers deliberate, strategize and set target for the next five years, it must ensure that the biodata of all inmates are harmonised with sister agencies, the Nigeria Financial Unit (NFIU), all banks and the INTERPOL to track all escaped inmates. He said “It is also very important to have their fingerprints, pictures and other details you have with you to be harmonised with them.”
Meanwhile, the Controller General of the service, Haliru Nababa, has said that the two-day retreat will not only afford the hierarchy of the agency the opportunity to restrategise and bond towards efficiency in service delivery, it also serves to provide clear perception on set targets.
He said the current capacity of the 244 custodial facilities in the country stands at 58,278 as against the population of 75,000 inmates it now holds, leading to congestion of inmates, worsened by recent incessant attacks which were externally organised and executed.
“Drawing from the above, the NCoS has taken measures that will forestall future attack such as the formation and activation of the Rapid Response Team (RRT) initiate, more intelligence sharing with other security agencies, the sensitization and encouragement of State Governments to implement non-custodial measures as well as the scaling up of the capacity of Armed Squad and Intelligence personnel on the use of high calibre weaponry and intelligence gathering.”
Whilst declaring the retreat open, the Governor of Sokoto State, Alh. Aminu Tambuwal, who was represented by his deputy, Manir Dan’iya, stated that his government will continue to support the Nigeria Correctional Service in achieving it goal of reforming and rehabilitating its inmate.
“As a government, we will continue to support you in your role as one of the critical operators in the administration of criminal justice system. The role of reforming and rehabilitating inmates cannot be overemphasized in order for us to have a crime free society.
“I wish you a successful deliberations and on behalf of the Governor, I hereby declare this retreat open,” the governor stated.