It was gathered that the Federal Executive Council (FEC) has approved N3.5 billion for the purchase of 320 operational vehicles to promptly convey inmates to courts as part of measures to decongest prisons in the country.
Minister of Interior, Gen. Abdulrahman Danbazau (retd), who disclosed this to State House correspondents at the end of the meeting, said the population of prisoners is 65,000 out of which 70 per cent is awaiting trial due to lack of utility vehicles to convey inmates to court.
He said the vehicles would be sourced from local manufacturers, assemblers and vendors within the country in line with government policy to promote made-in-Nigeria goods and create employment opportunities for the youths.
He said: “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, assemblers and vendors within Nigeria and the effort is to follow through government’s policy to ensure that most of the procurement of the equipment and such vehicles are done locally. That will also provide opportunity for job creation and things like that.
“But for the prison system in particular, we are making efforts in a way you know the prisons being one of the legs of the criminal justice system, the others being the police and the judiciary, is to see how best we improve in terms of conveying prison inmates to courts in particular so that we do not jeopardise their chances of their getting justice.
“So, we are glad that council approved this procurement. And along the line we want also to ensure that we provide for maintenance to ensure that the vehicles are well maintained and that there used for purpose there are meant to be used.
“The prison population as at today stands at about 65,000 prisoners; out of this about 70 per cent are awaiting trial. And part of the problem is lack of logistics, because there are 5,022 courts that on daily basis we have to convey prisoners to attend to their cases.”