Over 4,000 inmates incarcerated due to unpaid fines – Interior Minister
The Minister of Interior, Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo, has revealed that there are over 4,000 inmates held in custodial centres across the country due to their inability to pay fines imposed by judges and magistrates.
He expressed concern that more than 70 per cent of the total custodial centre population is awaiting trial.
Tunji-Ojo emphasized that the number of inmates in correctional facilities could be reduced to 40 per cent by exploring non-custodial alternatives, as outlined in the Correctional Service Act.
His remarks came during a meeting with the Ambassador of the European Union to Nigeria, Samuela Isopi, at his office in Abuja.
According to the minister, ”Over 70 percent of the 79,000 inmates are awaiting trial.
“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 percent if we explore non-custodial alternatives as provided for in the Correctional Service Act.”
The minister stated that the EU could support the country in deploying technology to buffer and enhance border management architecture within the country.
He said, “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,” he said.
“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.”
The minister urged the EU to support the Federal Government’s plan to carry out an audit of all correctional centres
Tunji-Ojo noted that the Ministry was working on key reforms, especially in areas of travel documentation processes and knowledge transfer.
He added, “We have commenced the process to unbottle the bottlenecks in our international passport application and collection process. Today, we have made huge progress. We are also working on ways to reduce identity theft. We want to make sure the green passport regains its pride and integrity.”
Earlier, the ambassador assured the minister of the support of the European Union, noting that the EU would render technical support in managing the illegal aspect of migration as well as curbing human trafficking and people smuggling.