The Comptroller General (CG), of the Nigerian Prisons Service (NPS), Jaffaru Ahmed, has announced plans to employ 6,545 personnel in different cadres of the service.
Speaking on Monday, in Abuja during the 2017 budget defence in the House of Representatives, Ahmed said the service had to this effect, obtained a waiver from the Federal Government, given that the service had inadequate personnel.
The CG said that N6 billion was earmarked for the recruitment in the 2017 budget. In total, N72.3 billion was proposed for the service in the budget, out of which N37.5 was earmarked for personnel with N19 billion for overhead and N16 billion for feeding inmates and dogs.
Ahmed disclosed that it costs the service over N16 billion each year to feed about 72,000 inmates in the country, adding that the service would embark on mechanised agriculture to enable prisoners produce enough food to feed themselves, so as to reduce the high financial burden laid on the Federal Government.
Further clarifying the budget, the CG said that in 2016 fiscal year, the NPS had an outstanding of N5 billion owed contractors for the feeding of prisoners, and therefore intended to set up specialised farm centres to train prisoners towards boosting food production and make prisoners able to feed themselves.
Although the Nigerian Prisons Service was not a revenue generating agency, Ahmed said the service was able to generate about N40.1 million in 2016 which had been paid into the national treasury. This is because the service was not allowed to retain any of its revenue unless it was generated from the Prison Industry or workshop, where the inmates were directly involved.
According to the CG, about 27,992 of the service work force could not be paid their salary as when due in 2016, because only N27.9 billion was released out of N34.9 billion proposed for personnel, although an additional N3.9 billion intervention fund was later released by the Ministry of Finance.
The CG said that out of N14 billion appropriated for 2016 Capital expenditure, N3.6 billion was released as the service purchased only 117 vehicles out of 350 proposed.
Stressing the need to relocate prisons from urban centres, Ahmed pointed out that massive rehabilitation was urgently needed in most of the prisons to avoid jail breaks.
Interestingly, out of the 241 prisons in the country, about 200 were constructed in the colonial days, dating back to 1896 and about 139 sandwiched in the metropolis.
Ahmed hitherto reiterated the need to relocate some prisons from urban centres because there is no room for expansion as some of them are over 100 years old.
Consequently, Chairman of the House Committee on Interior, Rep. Jagaba Jagaba, called for an executive session with the management of the Nigerian Prisons Service after the Comptroller General’s presentation.
Last week, the Peace and Security Forum (PSF) raised concerns on the worrisome condition of inmates in the Nigerian prisons, disclosing that the number of prison inmates had increased from 65,000 to 72, 000 in two months.
The forum therefore, cautioned the federal and state governments to take urgent actions to support the Nigerian Prisons Service by providing it with the necessary logistic support.