The Nigerian government revealed that it is spending N3 million daily on providing meals to inmates in prisons across the country, stressing the need to decongest prison centers across the country.
This financial commitment underscores the urgency of efforts to reduce overcrowding in detention centers across the country.
Minister of Interior Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo, who took office a few months ago, has been actively taking initiatives to reduce prison congestion. As part of these measures, a planned release of approximately 4,000 prisoners is underway.
The minister emphasized that, given the current number of 80,804 prisoners housed in 253 prisons, the significant costs of providing meals to prisoners have a significant impact on the financial resources of the federal government.
“So, before you go any further, let me say this. You look at the economy of scale. Feeding these 4,068 inmates costs the government about N3 million per day. Multiply N3 million per day by 365 days,” he said on Channels Television’s Politics Today.
“What’s the justification?”
Before the decongestion initiative, the minister announced the need for N500 million to cover fines for prisoners, thereby facilitating their release.
While the move sparked debates, human rights lawyer Femi Falana urged the federal government to reconsider the plan.
Olubunmi, however, clarified that the funds came from the private sector. He argued that a comparative analysis showed that paying the fines for the prisoners was a more viable option.
Since the money was not coming from the government’s pockets, he argued that it made practical sense to continue reducing congestion.
“It means that we have raised N585 million from the private sector to offset these fines and compensations, thereby saving the government an average of N1.1 billion in food annually. That’s just the economy of scale,” he added.