The Nigerian government revealed that it allocates a daily expenditure of N3 million to provide meals for inmates in prisons nationwide, emphasizing the need for decongesting custodial centres nationwide.
This financial commitment underscores the urgency of efforts to alleviate overcrowding in detention centres across the country.
Interior Minister Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo, who took office a few months ago, has actively pursued initiatives to reduce the congestion in prisons. A planned release of approximately 4,000 inmates is underway as part of these measures.
The minister emphasized that, given the current count of 80,804 inmates housed in 253 custodial facilities, the substantial cost of providing meals for prisoners significantly impacts the Federal Government’s financial resources.
“So, before you go on, let me say this. You look at the economy of scale. To feed these 4,068 inmates costs the government about N3 million a day. Multiply N3 million a day by 365 days,” he said on Channels Television’s Politics Today.
‘What Is The Justification?’
Prior to the decongestion initiative, the minister disclosed the necessity of N500 million to cover fines for inmates, thereby enabling their release.
While this action sparked debates, human rights lawyer Femi Falana urged the Federal Government to reconsider the plan.
Olubunmi, however, clarified that the funds were sourced from the private sector. He argued that a comparative analysis indicated that paying the fines for the inmates was a more viable option.
Since the funds were not drawn from the government’s purse, he asserted that proceeding with the decongestion drive made practical sense.
“It means we raised N585 million from the private sector to offset these fines and compensations to save the government of average of N1.1 billion per annum in feeding. That’s just the economy of scale,” he added.
“So, to me, what is the justification behind feeding somebody with N1.1 billion why holding him for N585 million, especially when that N585 million isn’t coming from the government?”