By Our Reporter
The Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola, has warned that the implication of the unusual security challenges in the country, manifested in insurgency, banditry, kidnappings and other crimes 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.
He gave the warning during the decoration of Haliru Nababa as the Controller General of the Nigerian Correctional Service, Monday in Abuja.
Accordingly, he charged the Controller General to lead the gallant officers of the service to protect the integrity of all Correctional facilities across the country, using all means necessary.
The Minister stressed that no one attacking any Correctional facility should be given the opportunity to regret his or her action, adding that others should do so on their behalf.
While describing Nababa’s appointment as well earned after serving the service diligently for 31 years, he said that the Controller General is a gallant officer and a patriot who emerged through a rigorous meritocratic selection process devoid of interference from any quarters.
“Interestingly, he is mounting the saddle at a time of unusual security challenges. These are manifested in 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 outsides 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. When inmates break free from custody, the security of lives and property is in jeopardy and bad things happen. This is the sociology of your emergence as the Controller General. It is a call to leadership, sacrifice, patriotism and selflessness.
“It is your bounden duty to lead the gallant officers of the service to protect the integrity of our facilities, using all means necessary. No one attacking our facilities should have the opportunity to regret his or her action. Others should do so on their behalf.
“It is important that you keep in focus the core mandate of correction. The inmates must be kept healthy and safe from harm and from harming others. While a custodial centre may not necessarily be a five-star hotel accommodation, inmates must be reasonably fed and their health well taken care of. Their dignity should be well respected and they should be protected from abuse of any form – physical, sexual, verbal and psychological. They should leave the facilities on completion of their terms feeling well treated and their dignity as God’s creature restored. They should feel grateful for being handled by firm but kind and compassionate officers. They are expected to have been reformed and come out better persons.
“Take staff welfare, promotion and training as very important. The staff face grave risks every day and are the last line of defence against dangerous criminals kept in custody. They should be well motivated to do their jobs. They should be made to undergo periodic training and retraining, especially on indoctrination, cutting-edge weapons and technology, Information Technology, combat skills, leadership and general administration,” Aregbesola tasked the Controller General.