FG frees 37 inmates in Rivers

On Tuesday, the federal government, through the Ministry of Interior, freed 37 inmates from both the Port Harcourt Maximum Security Custodial Centre and the Medium Security Custodial Centre, Ahoada, Rivers State.

Interior Minister Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo, during the exercise at the Port Harcourt Maximum Security Custodial Centre, said this was part of the measures to decongest prisons, improve facilities and enhance staff and inmates’ welfare nationwide.

Mr Tunji-Ojo also said the exercise was in furtherance of the President Bola Tinubu-led administration’s drive to free 4,068 inmates sentenced to various terms of imprisonment with the option of a fine and compensation in custodial centres nationwide.

The minister, represented by his technical adviser, Tunde Ogundare, noted that a stipend of N10,000 was also provided to the freed inmates to facilitate their return home.

He said that over N585 million was raised as corporate social responsibility from corporate bodies for releasing the inmates.

The minister expressed dismay that the Port Harcourt Correctional Centre was overcrowded against the initial design.

“The Rivers state command hosts one of the biggest custodial centres in terms of inmates’ population,“ he stated.

According to him, the maximum security custodial centre, Port Harcourt, built in the colonial era, should be for about 800 inmates, but today, it locks more than 4,000 people, accounting for one of the biggest in the country.

“These statistics show that the facility is more than 500 per cent congested, meaning that space meant for one person is occupied by five people.

“This is an unacceptable condition the present administration will not allow,” he said.

The minister disclosed that the benefitting inmates had been trained in various skills and vocations, adding that they had also undergone post-release orientation courses that would help them resettle in their communities seamlessly.

He, however, called on the public, especially communities of the former inmates, to accept them and also encourage them to reintegrate properly, warning the public against stigmatising them.

Earlier, in his address, the controller general of corrections, Haliru Nababa, commended the federal government and the minister for initiating the release of the inmates.

Mr Nababa, represented by the controller of corrections in Rivers, Felix Lawrence, urged the inmates to make judicious use of their privilege and not return to crime and criminality.


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