By Daniel Tyokua
The FCT Minister of State, Dr. Ramatu Tijjani Aliyu, on Tuesday, said she has forfeited her May salary to secure the immediate release of five inmates who could not afford to pay for their fines at the Kuje Correctional Service in Abuja.
In a statement issued by Austine Elemue, Special Assistant on Media to the Minister, said the minister’s life line for the inmates was at the instance of this year’s Eid-el-Fitr celebration.
It explained that the gesture would go a long way to decongest the Correctional Service already overcrowded with inmates in view of COVID-19 pandemic.
She told the inmates that the FCT Administration was going to take legal steps to see to the decongestion of the Kuje Correctional Service.
The statement quoted the minister as saying: “I will not only support the reduction, but I will also lend my voice in the reduction of prison inmates by paying up some bills. I will carry out the campaign and speak to well meaning Nigerians because you cannot leave the burden of good governance to government alone.
“We know that some of you are awaiting trial, we know that some have not been tried at all, but provided there is law, we will not be lawless. We will go by the law and get in well meaning Nigerians and pay up the fines. This will also go a long way to reduce the number besides government pronouncements.
“Government pronouncement as we all know does not come easily in every nation. If government pronouncement comes very easily, then definitely, the name correctional centre will be misplaced. We know Mr. President recently spoke our minds when he spoke about the need to decongest our prisons.
“And I know my Minister, a God fearing man, and a man with a heart of gold, he will certainly sent message across. God willing, FCT Administration will make moves to decongest our prison based on merit. I in my own capacity, I stand here personally on this Sallah day, I want to donate my salary for the release of 5 inmates”.
Aliyu affirmed that the Correctional Service has been positioned to refine the inmates in the rebuilding of a better society, noting that they could make the best out of the experiences gained at the service.
“There are times in our life that we erred, but to err is human, and to forgive is divine. There are times in our life that we are put to test, sometimes, we passed the test, sometimes we failed the test. For various reasons, we might have found ourselves at the correctional centre. But you know what, you can make the best out of it.
“As we appreciate you, we pray for you to come out to be a better citizens that will give us a Nigeria of our dreams. Somebody else cannot give us Nigeria of our dreams and you cannot give us Nigeria of our dreams from outside, you can only give us Nigeria of our dream from within and I know you are already at the preparatory stage. When you leave here either by amnesty or whatever pronouncements, you can only become better citizens,” Aliyu stated.
In his remarks, the Comptroller of Correctional Service, FCT Command, Mustapha Illiyasu Atta, while commending the minister for her visit, however expressed displeasure over the number of inmates awaiting trial, revealing that 70 percent of the inmates are awaiting trial list.
Atta, also used the occasion to reveal that the Kuje Correctional Service with a capacity of 560 inmates, now accommodates no fewer than 866 inmates, while appealing to relevant authorities to work towards the decongestion of Correctional Service.
The minister also donated 250 packs of cooked jollof rice, 500 bottles of soft drinks, 500 bottles of bottled water, 1000 face masks, 50 bags of rice, 50 cartons of spaghetti and 100 cartons of noodles.