The Nigerian government says it spends N1 million annually to cater for each inmate at the correctional facilities in the country.
Every month, the federal government spends N83.333 per inmate for sundry needs, including feeding.
Sola Fasure, the media adviser to the Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola, whose office oversees the correctional facilities, made this known in a statement on Saturday in Abuja.
According to the statement, the minister said this while inaugurating a 20-bed COVID-19 Crisis Intervention Fund Hospital and Equipment at the Maximum Security Custodial Centre, Port Harcourt.
The minister said the project would be an enduring legacy and a testimony of the utmost importance the Federal Government had so far taken in terms of corrections, the welfare of inmates as well as staff.
Mr Aregbesola added that the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration had, to a large extent, addressed the problem of inmates contracting diseases in custodial centres.
“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 care beyond the centres,” he said.
The minister also decried the enormous challenges of running correctional services with huge demands for infrastructure, equipment and maintaining the welfare of inmates.
He, however, assured that the Federal Government had provided a long-term solution to the challenges.
“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 a few days before our departure.
“Even work is steadily going on in the others and has reached an 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 said he had no doubt that the facility would go a long way in addressing the medical concerns of inmates and correctional service personnel.
The minister commended the management and staff of the Nigerian Correctional Service (NCoS) for working hard to keep the virus away.
He added that the new hospital was an intervention to make robust healthcare for those in custody and the NCoS staff.
Mr Aregbesola said the beauty of all the interventions in consonance with other reforms in the NCoS would obviously translate to security, peace and tranquillity in and around the centres and, ultimately, the entire country.