â€¢ Food contractors owed N7.5bn nationwide
By Udora Orizu in Abuja
A non-governmental organisation under the aegis of Alliance for Good Governance and Democracy Â has expressed concern over the non- payment of over N5.6 billion outstanding money owed contractors for the food supplied inmates Â in prisons nationwide, more thanÂ Â two yearsÂ Â after the federal government announced increment in the feeding allowance of prison inmates from N200 to N450 (feeding and gas allowance).
The group in a statement signed by its National Coordinator and National Secretary, Shadrack Nwokolo and Jimi Sanwo respectively, andÂ made available yesterday in Abuja Â Â revealed Â that after a Â thorough investigation of the state and conditionsÂ of prisons across the nation the groupÂ Â discovered that contractors responsible for feeding of the inmatesÂ are being owed huge sums of monies for the services they Â rendered to Nigerian Prisons Service for over two years.Â
â€œThere are about 75,000 inmates scattered in the nationÂ Â prisons. A lot of prisoners would have been dying on a daily occurrence if not for the kind gesture of these patrioticÂ Â contractors who have not relent in supplying foods to the inmatesÂ despite the huge indebtedness by Nigeria Prisons Service (NPS) in the last two Â years
Â â€œWe gathered that most of the contractors borrowed money from financial institutions with huge interest ratesâ€ the group opinedÂ Â Â
â€œWe are concerned about the welfare of inmates and that was why we were in the vanguard for the upward review of their daily Â feeding allowance from N200 per day Â to N450 per day , Â which we still admit to be Â grossly inadequate considering the cost of food items in the country.
Â â€œWe therefore callÂ and appeal to our listening President Muhammadu Buhari; the Minister of Interior, Abdulrahman Bello Danbazau,Â and the prison authorities for a quick intervention in Â the lingering issue Â to avert an imminent stoppage of Â food supplies to inmates in prisons nationwide. The consequences Â may be fatal if something is not done urgently to pay up the backlog of Â indebtedness to the contractors.
â€œIt saddened our heart that most of these patriotic contractors are struggling to survive, while some are facing litigations from banks and microfinance outfits where they got loans to service the inmates in Nigeria prisons across the country. Some we gathered have lost their lives because of these huge indebtedness,â€ it stated.
The group recalled: â€œIn January 2015, the federal government increased feeding allowance for prison inmates from N200 to N300 per prisoner per day excluding allowance for gas which is N150 per inmate per day. The total provision for feeding prisoners in Nigerian Prison is N450 per prisoner per day
It noted that some contractors were paid for the months of January and February 2015, while outstanding payments from June to December 2015 is still pending, same is applicable to Â 2016 where 60 per cent has been made for some months in 2016.