By Donald Iorchir
About 114 prison inmates breathed the air of freedom after their fines were paid by the FCT Administration yesterday.
FCT Minister, Muhammad Bello, announced the reprieve when the Presidential Committee on Prison Decongestion, visited the Kuje Medium Security to review cases of inmates who had either been fined but could not pay the stipulated fines or had stayed beyond the terms which their offenses could have attracted by law.
In addition to the 114 inmates freed by the minister, 10 were also freed by the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, and one each by PLAC, a non-governmental organisation and Naja’atu Mohammed, bringing the total of 126 inmates freed.
The minister, who was represented by the FCT permanent secretary, Chinyaka Oha, said the gesture by the administration was part of efforts to decongest the prisons and assist the freed inmates to reintegrate into the society.
According to him, the FCT Administration will continue to partner with committee to identify and support indigent inmates who had no means to pay the fines imposed on them.
He said the administration has been partnering with the Nigerian Prison Service to design and build new prison facilities in the territory, adding that about 36.3 hectares of land had been allocated in Abuja.
Bello also said that locations have been identified in the six area councils to build correctional centres for youth, adding that the centres would be dedicated solely for underage inmates.
Similarly, the FCT Chief Judge, Ishaq Bello, commended the minister for the establishment of a standard family as well as children and young persons’ court in the FCT, adding that the facility which is the first of its kind in the country, is expected to be completed by the end of 2018.