No fewer than one hundred and fourteen prison inmates today breathed an air of freedom after their court fines were paid by the FCT Administration.
The FCT Minister, Malam Muhammad Musa Bello announced the reprieve when the Presidential Committee on Prison De-congestion visited the Kuje Medium Security to review cases of inmates who have either been fined but could not pay the stipulated fines or have stayed beyond the terms which their offenses could have attracted by law.
The Minister, who was represented at the event by the FCT permanent secretary Mr. Christian Chinyaka Oha, said the gesture by the FCT administration was part of efforts to de-congest the prisons and assist the freed inmates to reintegrate back into the society.
According to him, the FCT Administration will continue to partner with Presidential Committee to identify and support indigent inmates who do not have the 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 for the building of a new prison in Abuja.
Bello also revealed that locations have been identified in the six area councils to build correctional centres for youths, adding that the centres would be dedicated solely for underage inmates rather than putting them together with high profile criminals in prisons.
Earlier in his remarks, the FCT Chief Judge, Justice Ishaq Bello commended the FCT Minister for the establishment of a standard Family as well as Children and young person’s 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.
He said the two courts will go a long way in addressing various cases involving young persons who presently have to be taken to open courts where adults are arraigned.
Justice Bello added the FCT Judiciary remains grateful to the Minister for the numerous interventions made to ensure improvements in the judicial system and speedy justice delivery.
In addition to the 114 inmates freed by the FCT Minister, 10 were also freed by the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, and one each by PLAC, a non-governmental organization and Hajiya Naja’atu Mohammed, bringing the total of 126 inmates freed.
Special Assistant (Media) to FCT Minister