Nigeria’s Minister of Interior, Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo, revealed a plan to secure the release of over 4,000 inmates held in custodial centers across the country. These individuals have been unable to pay fines amounting to approximately N500 million. The Minister expressed determination in resolving this issue and has initiated discussions with private organizations to raise the necessary funds.
Minister Tunji-Ojo, in an interview on Arise News, stated that upon assuming office, he promptly established a committee to assess the situation in correctional centers. The committee’s findings revealed that thousands of inmates were in custody solely because they could not afford to pay the fines imposed on them. To address this, the Minister has engaged with private organizations and expressed confidence that within the next four weeks, the fines will be paid, leading to the release of these inmates and a significant reduction in custodial center congestion.
While emphasizing the importance of decongesting the custodial centers, Minister Tunji-Ojo noted that this responsibility extends beyond the scope of the Ministry of Interior. He disclosed ongoing discussions with the Attorney-General of the Federation, Lateef Fagbemi, SAN, aimed at expediting cases involving awaiting trial inmates.
The Minister also highlighted the activation of non-custodial centers as part of the comprehensive strategy to alleviate the burden on custodial facilities.
This initiative not only seeks to address the issue of inmates detained for their inability to pay fines but also underscores the collaborative efforts between government authorities and private entities to enhance the criminal justice system and protect the rights of individuals in legal proceedings. The upcoming clearance of these fines represents a significant step toward providing justice and relief to those held in custody due to financial constraints.