Nigeria: Minister Secures Release Of 36 Gombe Prison Inmates, Calls For Prison And Judicial System Reforms

By Ahmad Umar

Gombe (Nigeria) – Minister of State for Power, Housing and Transport, Suleiman Hassan Zarma has secured the release of 36 inmates from Gombe prison in northeast of the country.

Zarma disclosed this on Saturday to Journalists in Gombe shortly after the release of 24 inmates, where he paid various sums of money as fines for them.

The remaining 12 inmates are however awaiting courts to resume after the public holidays to order for their release.

Zarma advised them to turn over a new leaf by seeking to become better citizens having looked back at their experience while incarcerated.

The Minister said he was motivated to take the step following the release of 500 inmates in Kano by President Muhammadu Buhari 

All the prison inmates released, according to prison officials, committed civil offenses.

He said unless the influx of persons into the prisons were addressed through reforms, Nigerian prisons would remain congested and inhabitable.

“In the first place, it is public knowledge that our prisons are over congested. This facility was built for about 393 people but now host over 1000 people.

“Some of the persons we secured their release today committed minor offences with very small charges. We think government would have no business keeping them here and feeding them at a cost possibly higher than what they supposed to pay as fine,” he said.

The minister added that even though some of the released inmates may not be from Gombe State, he remains duty bound to secure their release in order for them to start new lives as well as relieve the burden on the prison facility.

“They can go and start their lives again so that they can be better citizens and contribute more to national growth. You can see most of them are not up to 30 years old, they are young people with potentials to make their mark in life given proper orientation,” he said.

Zarma said even though the situation has persisted for long, there is the urgent need to address issues relating to the judicial system as well as committing more resources towards ensuring the desired reforms.

“We have to be fair to government. This thing has been long for so long, whatever effort is done now will be dissipated. There are so many issues around decongestion of prisons. There is the judicial process and then there is the financial aspect of it. All of these will have to be looked at again and then choose what better model to use so that we can make the place a better place for them,” the minister said.

He however appealed to spirited individuals to cue in with the effort of President Buhari by securing the release of prisoners in order not to only decongest the prisons but also relieve the burden of upkeep of inmates on government.

Also Speaking, the Deputy State Comptroller of Prisons, Ibrahim Gide disclosed that 36 inmates regained their freedom after the minister paid their fines. He described the gesture as a welcome development.

Gide advised the released inmates to go back into the society as useful citizens.

One of the released inmates, Daniel Ambrose, an indigene of one of the local government areas of the State, described the moment as a miracle while expressing gratitude to the minister.

Posted by on 30/12/2017. Filed under Governance, News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry