We have released 12,000 inmates so far – FG

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The prison decongestion programme of the ministry of justice has resulted in the release of 12,000 inmates across correctional centres in the country since 2016 under President Muhammadu Buhari’s regime.

Secretary of the Prison Decongestion Committee of the ministry, Patricia Ayoola Daniels, disclosed this on Tuesday at the 2023 budget defence of the ministry.

According to her, after the release of the inmates, the ministry upgraded the skills acquisition centres starting with the pilot centre at Keffi Correctional Centre to equip the inmates that were released.

She also disclosed that inmates were provided legal services during the decongestion exercise.

Ms Daniels also said the justice ministry supported the release of 180 juveniles from foster institutions in the country.

“We visited about three in the last one year and granted them amnesty, and we went with experts from UNICEF to properly re-integrate the children back,” she said.

Justice minister Abubakar Malami said the ministry had enjoyed tremendous legislative support in passing the much-needed bills into law.

“With your support, the justice sector has been transformed into an avenue, not only for law enforcement but indeed for revenue generation, and huge sums of money and assets have been recovered by the ministry and other agencies. Also, it has helped to block revenue leakages,” the minister said.

Mr Malami called for sustained support for the justice sector, particularly regarding actions, plans and initiatives geared towards entrenching the rule of law, institutionalising access to justice, and protecting freedom, as provided for in the constitution.

He said the 2023 budget proposal of the ministry was based mainly on priority, targeted to develop the justice subsector’s capacity to meet the ever-evolving complex national and international obligations to fight corruption and restore investors’ confidence.

According to him, the 2023 budget focused on re-calibrating the economy and inevitably facilitating peace and security in the nation.

Mr Malami said the ministry needed funds, just as he solicited the support of the Senate committee to achieve its mandate.

“We have taken significant steps to support measures to ensure peace and security, fight terrorism, and enhance access to justice,” he noted.

Committee chairman Opeyemi Bamidele (APC- Ekiti) said the 2023 budget estimates for the justice ministry and its agencies, as contained in the Appropriation Bill submitted by Mr Buhari, is N71.291 billion.

According to him, the total sum includes allocations to the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) and statutory transfer to the National Human Rights Commission.

He specifically commended the president for increasing the budgetary provisions of the Council of Legal Education from N2.7 billion it was in the 2022 fiscal year to N10.12 billion proposed for the 2023 fiscal year.

(NAN)