The Federal Government has reported that a total of N22.44 billion was spent on feeding the 75,507 inmates in the correctional centres across the nation.
An official of the government disclosed this in Abuja on Thursday.
The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Interior, Dr Shuaib Belgore, during a High-level conference on corrections and decongestion of custodial centres, said the inmates are spread in 244 custodial centres nationwide.
Belgore said that 70 percent of the inmates were awaiting trial.
He attributed the high number of awaiting trial inmates to arbitrary arrests, delay in dispensing justice and inability to meet bail conditions.
The permanent secretary said that the situation had led to the congestion of 82 custodial centres across the country.
“The total number of male inmates are 73,821 and 1,686 are female inmates. Out of the 75,507 inmates, 52,436 are awaiting trial while 23,071 are convicted persons, with 3,322 as condemned inmates on death row.
“The Federal Government budgeted N22.44 billion in the 2023 appropriation to cater for the feeding of inmates. Failure to take action to decongest the custodial centres will come at a cost.
“The effects of overcrowding in the custodial centres have led to huge revenue drain for the Federal Government.
“Dilapidation of the centres, criminalisation of the society and the inability to separate awaiting trial inmates from convicted persons,” he said.
Belgore said there was need for holistic reform of the country’s correction system, including the modernisation of detention centres for adequate reformation and rehabilitation of offenders.
Stakeholders, according to him, have since emphasized the necessity of constructing new facilities and redesigning the bail system.
“I am of the view that the discourse at this conference should allocate more time to address speedy dispensation of justice to reduce number of inmates on awaiting trial.
“In as much as the Ministry of Interior works tirelessly to accomplish the goal of achieving greater reduction of number of inmates across our custodial centres, we are determined to ensure that the correctional facilities provide not just a decent accommodation.
“We also ensure that inmates acquire skills and knowledge to advance their integration into the society when they eventually regain freedom,” Belgore said.
He remarked that the conference should provide efficient, effective and lasting strategies to tackle congestion of correctional centres and effective execution of non-custodial measures.
The permanent secretary stated that initiatives should be established to achieve effective reformation, rehabilitation and reintegration of inmates.
Belgore argued that the meeting should also look at how the federal and state governments influence prisoner correction.