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Poor Feeding Can Trigger Violence In Prisons – NCoS



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Amid the rising economic hardship across the country, the Nigeria Correctional Service said it would not reduce inmates’ rations or trade off their welfare.

The inmate population, according to the latest summary on the NCoS website, is 78,629 out of which convicted inmates are 23,896 and awaiting trial inmates, 53,706.

According to the 2024 budget, NCoS is to spend N24,447,582,237 on the supply of catering materials and foodstuffs.

On December 7, 2023, the Controller General, NCoS, Haliru Nababa, disclosed at a joint National Assembly Committee on Interior that the service spends N800 per day to feed each of the 900 dogs in the service, while just N750 is allocated to feed each prisoner, majority of whom are awaiting trials. This amounts to N250 per meal for the inmates.

Nababa, however, noted that the service had proposed an upward review of N3,000 daily feeding cost for an inmate, adding that the proposal had been submitted to the Minister of Interior, Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo.

When the CG appealed, the naira traded at 1,200 per dollar compared to the present rate of 1,600/$.

Last week Friday, inmates in the Correctional Centre in Jos, Plateau State, protested the plan to reduce their food ration. It was gathered that the protest followed a tip-off on the downward review of their food size.

However, the spokesperson for NCoS, Umar Abubakar, who spoke to our correspondent on Friday, said inmates’ feeding and welfare would not be tampered with to avoid attacks or protests in the custodial centres.

When asked how the service was dealing with the increasing cost of food, Abubakar explained, “There is no doubt that the present economic situation is biting harder as inflation keeps increasing almost daily.

“The Nigerian Correctional Service is not alienated from this economic conundrum. We have over 75,000 inmates in our custody and their welfare which includes their feeding and ration cannot be toyed with.

“One of the major triggers of violence in custodial centres is the issue of inmates’ feeding. Any good correction centre manager will make sure that the basic and physiological needs such as food, shelter, medicals, access to court and sanitation are fundamental in ensuring a peaceful custodial centre.

“Feeding of inmates in particular is a major national security issue that can ignite conflagrations in our facilities if not properly managed. The cost of foodstuff has indeed skyrocketed, and the Service is grappling with meeting the needs of the inmates using the present feeding rate as prices of things in the market have skyrocketed.

“The service is managing the available resources at its disposal to cater for the inmates even in the face of geometric increases in food prices. Indeed, the Service deserves kudos for this. Arising from this, the Service headed by the Controller General, Haliru Nababa, has written a proposal to the concerned authority for the upward review of inmates feeding rates.

“This is a proactive action targeted towards the enhanced welfare of inmates as well as ensuring water-tight security in our custodial facilities. There is no gainsaying that the present rate of feeding inmates is grossly inadequate, hence the need to expedite action in the proposal for an upward review of inmates’ feeding rate.”

Speaking on whether the service was planning alternatives to feeding the inmates, the spokesperson noted, “The quantity and quality of inmates feeding, and ration remain the same even with the prevailing economic situation.”

“We have asked our contractors and vendors to source foodstuff directly from the farmers, and also from rural markets, where the prices are lower.”

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