THE Federal Executive Council (FEC), on Wednesday, approved the sum of N3.5 billion for the procurement of 320 operational vehicles for the Nigeria Prisons Service.
Minister of Interior, Lieutenant-General Abdulrahman Dambazau, who briefed the State House correspondents after the FEC meeting, said this was part of efforts to strengthen the nation’s criminal justice system.
He added that the procurement of the operational vehicles would facilitate the ongoing efforts to decongest Nigerian prisons, as this would help in conveying inmates to courts for their trials.
He also said total inmates population in Nigerian prisons stood at about 65,000, adding that out of the figure, about 70 per cent were awaiting trail.
Dambazau noted that part of the problem was lack of logistics, because there are 5,022 courts which, on a daily basis, prisons officials would have to transport inmates to attend to their cases.
He said what the Federal Government was doing was to reduce the number of inmates awaiting trial.
The minister, who disclosed that the Criminal Justice Act 2015 had made provision for alternative to sentencing, otherwise known as non-custodian sentencing, maintained that the courts could now use that, instead of sending the individudal to prison and apply other means of dealing with his case.
“In our efforts to strengthen criminal justice system and to also contribute towards decongesting the system, we presented a memo for the procurement of 320 operational vehicles for the prison service at the cost of N3.5 billion.
“This procurement is from local manufacturers, assemblies and vendors within Nigeria and the effort is to follow through government policy to ensure that most of the procurement and such vehicles are done locally. That will also provide opportunity for job creation and things like that,” he said.