Michael Olugbode in Abuja
No fewer than 37 inmates have regained freedom from both Kuje Medium Custodial Centre and Suleja Centre following payments of their fines.
The fines, which ranged from N15,000 and N130,000, were paid by public spirited persons in conjunction with Prisoners Rehabilitation and Welfare Action (PRAWA).
The Comptroller of Correctional Service for the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, Command, Ibrahim Idris handed over five of the released inmates to officials of PRAWA on Friday at the Kuje Correctional Centre, saying all the conditions for their freedom had been met.
Idris told journalists that the Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola should be commended for initiating the process leading to the release.
He noted that the Minister at the recent National Conference on Prisons Decongestion which was attended by Judges across the country, including the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Olukayode Ariwoola had urged that Nigerians to pay the fines of some prisoners to decongestion prisons across the country.
Idris said a total of 37 inmates had their fines paid for them, noting that some of them were jailed for minor offences, with options of fine but were unable to raise money to pay the fines.
He said: “We are releasing five from here today (Kuje), four others are having their documents processed. And they would be released immediately as that is concluded. So far 37 are regaining their freedom from Kuje and Suleja centres.
“The Chief Judges of the FCT and Niger states have been here, and they are instrumental to the gesture which is aimed at decongestion of our facilities.”
Speaking on behalf of PRAWA, its Deputy Director, Ogechi Ogu said the inmates should be assisted in the areas of rehabilitation by public spirited persons to enable them to integrate into the community and work for a decent living for themselves.
She explained that PRAWA is championing decongestion of prisons in Nigeria because of the huge sums of taxpayers money the governments commit to their feeding every year, while appealing against stigmatisation of inmates by the society.