The Federal Government, on Tuesday commissioned a 20-bed hospital, equipment and generating plant at the Medium Security Custodial Centre, Ilesa, Osun State.
The healthcare centre, according to the Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, is part of the COVID-19 Intervention Fund given to Correctional Service, explaining that each geopolitical zone of the country benefits from the comprehensive healthcare project.
Ogbeni Aregbesola while commissioned the project, restated President Muhammadu Buhari’s commitment to repositioning, resuscitation, reformation and rehabilitation of inmates in all the custodial centres of the country.
The former governor of Osun State maintained that inmates are entitled to their full human dignity, decent meals, medical treatment and humane accommodation, adding that their rights should be protected and enhanced.
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He appealed to state governments to take advantage of the new constitution amendment to activate speedy judicial process to take care of offenders, as well as providing the requisite infrastructure for state inmates, who constitute the majority of inhabitants of custodial centres nationwide.
Aregbesola said: “The reform President Muhammadu Buhari-led Administration introduced to correctional services was designed to change the conception of the penal system from the punitive prison system to a correction system that reforms and integrates convicted offenders back into society as part of civilised humanity.
“Inmates are also humans created in the image of God but who have made bad choices leading to their incarceration.
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“Nevertheless, their full dignity and rights should be protected and enhanced. They are entitled to decent meals, medical treatment and humane accommodation, among others. The whole idea is to help them recover the best version of themselves and become who they were destined to be, their past mistakes notwithstanding.
“But generally, the states must introduce judicial reforms that will make possible prompt dispensation of justice and do away with long and often indeterminate detention which creates the deluge of awaiting trial inmates in the custodial centres.
“Many inmates have been in detention for a period longer than the maximum sentence the offence they were alleged to have committed carries. This is miscarriage of justice and inexcusable. We cannot claim to be a just and humane society when this happens to any of our citizens.
“However, with our intervention, a regional mega facility with capacity for 3,000 inmates has been established in Ilesa. It is a village on its own, with courts and other infrastructure for a modern custodial centre.
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“We established six such facilities in the six geo-political zones of the country to address the challenge of congestion, especially in urban centres and ease the burden of accommodation for inmates. The ones in Abuja and Kano are almost completed and we hope that with improved funding, the others, including the one here, will be completed soon.”
He added that the hospital, generating plant and equipment are poised to guarantee adequate medical treatment and welfare for those in the correctional centres. The Minister admonished Correction officials to be professional and shun corruption and other acts capable of compromising the service, including the safety of inmates and officers. “It is also important that all officials live above board, be thoroughly professional and shun any act of corruption, including inordinate relationship with inmates. Corruption suborns the integrity of any institution. In the custodial centre, it puts inmates and staff in danger and undermines the security of our nation, including the citizens. Therefore, all personnel must be personally disciplined and all rules followed”, the Minister charged them.
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In his welcome address, the Controller General of Corrections, Haliru Nababa, explained that the new set of infrastructure underpins the commitment of the President Muhammadu Buhari government in enhancing humane containment of persons in custody and repositioning the correctional service in line with standard global practice.
Nababa expressed gratitude to the President and the Minister for not sparing any effort in getting a better deal for inmates across the country, through the birth of ideas that will further assist in engendering the success of the current reforms.
He said: “As a service, inmates’ welfare is not only a matter of priority but a statutory responsibility that is key to the general peace and tranquility experienced all over our Custodial Centres.”
The 20-Bed COVID-19 Hospital, Equipment and Generating Plant at the Medium Security Custodial Centre, Ilesa is equipped with an Operating Theatre, Dental facilities, a Laboratory as well as Radiology facilities.
Dignitaries at the event included representative of Acting Comptroller General of Nigeria Immigration Service, Abdulmumuni Haliru, a Deputy Comptroller General; the Deputy Controller General of Corrections, Works and Logistics, Tosin Akinrujomu, Deputy Controller General of Corrections, Health and Welfare, Mary Laureen, Zonal Coordinators of Corrections and Fire Service, among others.