The Minster of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola, has said that the Federal Government’s timely approach to the pandemic since 2020 had impacted positively on the lives of inmates in Nigerian’s Correctional Centers.
The Director of Press, in the ministry, Mrs Blessing Lere-Adams, who made this known in a statement on Monday in Abuja, quoted the minister as saying this in a presentation at the Third Annual Lecture on Economy and Security during COVID-19, at the Faculty of Arts, Ekiti State University, Ado-Ekiti.
Aregbesola confirmed that initiatives of the Federal Ministries of Interior and the Federal Ministry of Justice to secure Presidential Pardon and Amnesty for some inmates, while also recommending others to State Governments for release, proved to be helpful.
The minister commended the faculty for organising the event which, he said, would remain indelible in the minds of Nigerians for a long time to come.
He explained that the Federal Government used old-age, ill-health and inmates with less than six month to finish their sentences, as some of the criteria used to select the beneficiary inmates.
Other criteria also used included mentally-ill inmates and those with option of fines not exceeding N50,000, leading to a total of 2,600 inmates, from across various custodial centres nationwide, benefitting from the amnesty.
Out of the total, he said, were 885 convicts, who could not pay their fines totalling N21.4million, which the government paid on their behalf to enable them win their freedom, including 41 of the inmates who were Federal convicts.
Aregbesola recalled that the Federal Government had, on March 9, 2020, set up a Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, made up of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr Boss Mustapha as Chairman.
Also, Dr Sani Aliyu as the National Coordinator, the Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola, Minister of Aviation, Sen. Hadi Sirika, among others.
He, however, noted that although COVID-19 has had its effect in Nigeria, the government was able to mitigate and reduce the number of casualties.
“More enduring was that the pandemic further brought to the fore the capacity of Nigerians to be resilient in the face of adversity.
Earlier, the Vice Chancellor of the institution, Prof. Edward Olanikpeku, commended the minister for honouring their invitation in spite of his tight schedule, while calling on everyone to observe COVID-19 protocols.
Chairman of the occasion and Speaker, Ekiti state House of Assembly, Hon. Funminiyi Afuye, noted that the COVID-19 pandemic did pose great threat and hardship on the citizens such that they were gradually pulling through it safely by adhering to all the protocols.(NAN)