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Over 70% Prison Inmates awaiting trial, 4,000 Unable To Pay Court Fines – Interior Minister Gives Sad Details Of Justice System In Nigeria

By Rita Elenwo

The Minister of Interior, Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo, has painted a grim picture of justice administration when he revealed that over 4000 inmates are held in custodial centers across the country over their inability to pay fines slammed on them by judges and magistrates.

Tunji-Ojo lamented that over 70 per cent of the total population in the nation’s custodial centers are awaiting trial.

For him the number of inmates in the correctional facilities would reduce drastically to about 40 per cent if non-custodial alternatives as provided for in the Correctional Service Act are explored.

In a statement released on Saturday by the minister’s Media Adviser, Alao Babatunde hunited that this was said when the Ambassador of the European Union to Nigeria, Samuela Isopi, visited him at his office in Abuja.

” 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 however, called for the EU support in deploying technology to buffer and enhance border management architecture within the country

“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.”

While seeking 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.

“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.

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