Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo, the Minister of Interior, hasexpressed concern over the incarceration of more than 4,000 inmates across Nigeria due to their inability to pay fines imposed by judges and magistrates.
According to Tunji-Ojo, over 70 percent of the total custodial population is awaiting trial. He also suggested that by exploring non-custodial alternatives as outlined in the Correctional Service Act, the inmate population in correctional facilities could be reduced by 40 percent.
He said this during a visit by the European Union Ambassador to Nigeria, Samuela Isopi, to the minister’s office in Abuja.
Punch Newspaper reported, the minister stated: “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.
Tunji-Ojo said it is important that the EU support in enhancing border management through technology deployment and emphasized the historical bilateral relationship between the country and the EU.
He noted that solving crime and migration issues in Nigeria would benefit all of Africa, given the shared boundaries with the EU.
“If we are able to solve crime and migration problems in Nigeria, Africa will be better for it,” he added.
“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.”
Furthermore, the minister urged the EU to assist in conducting an audit of all correctional centers and shared ongoing reforms in travel documentation processes and knowledge transfer.
The minister expressed a commitment to improving passport application processes and reducing identity theft to restore the integrity of the green passport.
Tunji-Ojo continued: “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.”
The European Union Ambassador, on his side, promised the EU’s support, particularly in addressing illegal migration, human trafficking, and people smuggling through technical assistance