The federal government has warned against the influx of more inmates into the Nigeria custodial centres as a result of increased insecurity and criminality across the country.
Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, said this development should prompt the leadership of the nation’s Correctional facilities not only to be proactive and vigilant, but alive to their responsibilities to defend the country’s integrity at all cost.
The Minister sounded the warnings during the decoration of Haliru Nababa as the Controller General of the Nigerian Correctional Service, Monday in Abuja.
He said the choice of Nababa came from a “rigorous meritocratic selection” after 31 years in Service, describing him as a gallant and patriotic officer.
Aregbesola said: “Interestingly, he is mounting the saddle at a time of unusual security challenges.
“These are manifested in the insurgency in the North-east, banditry in the North-west and parts of North Central, kidnappings in virtually all parts of the country, financial crimes and ritual killings in the South-west, militancy that is assuming an insurrectional dimension in the South-east and South-south and sundry other criminal activities in all parts of the country.
“The implication of this is that the custodial facilities will be bursting at the seams with the influx of inmates awaiting trials or convicts serving terms and awaiting execution.
“This poses a special challenge in that some of the inmates belong to organisations that will deem themselves to be fighting an ethno-religious and political causes.
“Therefore, their members outside will be planning to break into the facilities to free their members.
“There are also sophisticated criminal organisations whose members are either serving terms or awaiting trials and are now using the security situation in the country as an opportunity to attack our custodial centres and obtain their freedom.
“Whatever may be the motive, custodial centres have been under consistent attacks in a brazen challenge to the authority of the Nigerian state.”
The Minister also urged Correctional Service officers to use the presence of inmates in the custodial centres to garner intelligence reports for use by security agencies to address the security situation in the country.
He said the Service should maintain zero tolerance for bad eggs amongst its ranks and files, while the dignity of inmates should be sacrosanct and respected.
The Minister further said: “It is necessary to bolster discipline and professional integrity among the rank and file. An organisation is as strong and effective as the level of discipline within it.
“There are a few bad eggs that smuggle prohibited items to inmates, assist them in running criminal operations while in custody, take them out to unapproved places and locations and wittingly or unwittingly facilitate jailbreak for them.
“They should be fished out. Their nefarious activities endanger the nation, other staff and inmates. There should be no place for them. There should be zero tolerance for them in the service.”