Better days are in sight for Nigerian prisoners as the Senate, through its Committee on Interior, on Wednesday increased the daily feeding cost of a prisoner to N1,000 from N750 proposed by the executive in the 2022 budget.
This is as the committee planned to converge the Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, Justice Ibrahim Tanko Mohammed, and the Nigeria Bar Association, NBA, on expeditious justice delivery in decongesting the prisons.
In his presentation before the Committee during the 2022 budget defence session, acting Comptroller-General of the Nigerian Correctional Service, NCS, Idris Isa, had said the daily N450 feeding cost for each of the prisoners, has been increased to N750 as proposed in the 2022 budget estimates.
According to him, 47,959 out of the 66,346 total inmates in custodian centres across the country are unconvicted yet awaiting trial, faulting it to be the reason for congestion and failure to meet international standards.
Moved by empathy and compassion, the Committee Chairman, Senator Kashim Shettima (APC Borno Central) and members, frowned at the N750 feeding cost per day proposed for each inmate across the custodian centres.
On behalf of the committee, Senator Chukwuka Utazi (PDP Enugu North) said going by the value of Naira today and increasing costs of consumables, N750 is insufficient.
“Mr Chairman, I will urge this committee to jerk up the proposed N750 feeding cost per day on each of the inmates at the custodian centres to at least N1,000.00 because no grown-up Nigeria today can survive with N750 per day as far as feeding is concerned,” he said.
Seconding the motion, Senator Betty Apiafi (PDP Rivers West), said the proposed N1,000 should be the minimum and must be reflected in the final budget to be passed for the correctional service.
The Chairman of the committee accordingly ruled in favour of the motion by hitting the gavel on the table to that effect.
“The proposed N1,000.00 is the minimum and will surely be reflected in the budget to be passed by way of required appropriation,” he said.
Senator Utazi moved a motion for the committee to have a dialogue with the CJN and NBA on the problem of Prison congestion for a way out.
Seconding the motion, Senator Betty Apiafi further said a proper motion should be sponsored on the floor of the Senate by any member of the committee to that effect.
In his remarks, The chairman said legislative action will surely be taken in that direction for required cohesion between the arms of government.
“It is very worrisome for a percentage of inmates awaiting trials across the various correctional centres to be 80 per cent while those actually convicted is 20 per cent
“This Committee shall surely meet the CJN, NBA and other stakeholders in justice delivery in the country for lasting solutions to the problem”, he said.