Each prisoner in the country’s jail facilities reportedly costs the federal government N1 million per year to support.
This was revealed in a statement issued on Saturday in Abuja by Sola Fasure, media adviser to the Minister of the Interior.
The statement said that the minister made the remarks while opening a hospital and medical equipment funded by the COVID-19 Crisis Intervention Fund at the Maximum Security Custodial Centre in Port Harcourt.
The minister said that the project would leave a lasting legacy and attest to the high priority the Federal Government has placed on corrections, inmate welfare, and the well-being of employees.
Aregbesola stated that the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari had made strides towards reducing the spread of sickness among prison prisoners.
“The custodial centres were frighteningly centres for contracting diseases like scabies and tuberculosis, among others.
“Happily, this has been addressed by the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration and is now a thing of the past.
“We not only have well-manned clinics and well stocked pharmacies, the inmates at the custodial centres now have access to excellent medical cares beyond the centres,” he said.
The minister also lamented the significant difficulties in providing correctional services, which are extremely resource-intensive.
But he said the problems had permanent answers that the federal government had supplied.
“This centre in Port Harcourt, with a capacity for 1,800 inmates, presently houses about 3,067 inmates. This is just a reflection of the situation in most urban custodial centres where we have congestion at the moment.
“The facilities and even the personnel are overstretched, but we are coping and providing long term solutions to this challenge.
“One of such solutions is the construction of mega 3,000-capacity custodial villages in six geo-political zones of the country. The one for the South-South is in Bori, not far from here in Rivers.
“The ones for the North-West in Janguza, Kano and the North-Central, in Karshi, Abuja, are ready. Hopefully, we shall inaugurate the one in Kano in a few days, before our departure.
“Even work is steadily going on in the others and has reached appreciable level.
“Let me also reiterate that the Federal Government will stop feeding inmates incarcerated for breaching state laws. As you commence your budget process for next year, include feeding of your inmates,” he said.
Aregbesola expressed confidence that the facility would significantly improve the health of convicts and staff in the penitentiary system.
The minister praised the efforts of the Nigerian Correctional Service (NCoS) administration and employees to prevent the spread of the illness.
He also mentioned that the new hospital was an intervention to improve the quality of healthcare available to both inmates and NCoS employees.
Aregbesola said that the harmony of all the reforms in the NCoS will naturally translate to security, peace, and tranquilly in and around the centres and, eventually, the entire country.