The Federal Government on Thursday said it is on the trail of a total of 3,906 inmates who escaped from various custodial centers in the country and still at large since 2020.
Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola who appeared on a media briefing organised by the Presidential Media Team at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, said a total of 4,860 escaped from the various centers from 2020 till date. Of this number, according to him, 954 have been recaptured.
He, however, assured that the fleeing inmates have nowhere to hide as those still on the run cannot fully reintegrate into the society as all their biometric data have been captured and all other critical information needed to exist as a full citizen has been digitally secured.
“How long can they continue to run from the state? The state is a patient bird. You can run but you can never hide.
“I will like to inform Nigerians that we have captured the biometric information of all inmates in the facilities of NCoS working in partnership with the Nigerian Identity Management Commission (NIMC).
“Therefore, we have the capacity and are tracking all escapees from our facilities. In addition, we are working with and have shared the details of escapees with INTERPOL, to check the risks of cross border movements,” the minister revealed.
On reformation and rehabilitation of the inmates, the Minister revealed that there are 465 inmates running various degree programmes at the National Open University of Nigeria.
“There are various ongoing reformation and education programmes for inmates in our custodial facilities. The Service, in partnership with the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN), has increased the number of Study Centers to 10 across Correctional formations (Abeokuta, Anambra, Enugu, Kaduna, Keffi, Kuje, Lafia, Lagos, Port Harcourt, and Umuahia).
“There are currently about 465 inmates running various Degree programmes, 85 of the inmates are running Post – Graduate Degree programs, while four are running PhD programmes within the custodial facilities.
“A total of 560 inmates have been enrolled for WAEC/NECO Examinations, and 2,300 for Adult Literacy Classes in several Custodial Centers. Additional Borstal Training Institutions for young offenders, male and female, are to be established in each State of the Federation,” OgbeniAregbesola stated.
The Minister further stated that 174,000 jobs have been created for Nigerians through the administration of Expatriate Quotas and Business Permits.
“Between 2019 and October 2021, over 87,000 expatriate quotas were granted, 951 business permits were granted and 598 licenses were issued to public places of worship for the conduct of statutory marriages.
“In addition, 174,000 understudy jobs have been created through the expatriate quota administration system. We recently inaugurated a Ministerial Task Force on the Monitoring of Expatriate Quota. The primary objective is to audit, monitor and enforce the conditions for the approval of expatriate quota and foreign business permit. Nigerians may wish to note that one of the conditions for the approval of Expatriate Quota is that for every expatriate position, the company must employ two Nigerians to understudy the expatriate.
Meanwhile, the Minister declared that the challenges associated with the application and collection of passports will soon be a thing of the past, as the authorities have so far issued 2,742,207 passports in two years.
“We have witnessed growing demand for the Nigerian passport both locally and by Nigerians in diaspora. A total of 2,742, 207 passports of different categories were issues between 2019 to date.
“The increasing growth rate is however putting a lot of pressure on the current processing structure and resources and further justifies the need for a reform in the passport application and processing system in line with the current reality,” Aregbesola said.
Continuing, the Minister revealed that the ministry was aware of the challenges faced by Nigerians in securing their passport, but noted that efforts is being put in place to make it a thing of the past.
“The Ministry is aware of the challenges faced by applicants for processing and reissue of passports. I want to use this opportunity to sure Nigerian that the current experience will soon be a thing of the past. New production and capture centers will be opened in the next few weeks to ease access by Nigerians all over the world.
“I am pleased to inform Nigerians that the Ministry has taken substantial measures to address the issue of shortages of the passport booklets. This year alone, the ministry approved a special deployment of over 600,000 passport booklets, the largest of its kind ever done, to cushion the effects of shortages being experienced,” the Minister started.
On corruption, Aregbesola highlighted the recent sting operation carried out by the Ag. Comptroller General of the Nigeria Immigration Service, NIS, at the Ikoyi passport office, noting that many reforms such as a new appointment management system, amongst others are taking place to reduce corruption to the barest minimum.
“Recall that recent sting operation carried out by the Acting Comptroller General of Immigration. This is in line with the initiative we have adopted to clean up the system of bad eggs.
“To limit human interference and corruption, we are streamlining the whole passport application and production processes to increase efficiency.
“In the coming days, a new and digital appointment management system will be launched to optimize the passport application experience for Nigerians, limit physical visits to passport offices and check the inconveniences that Nigerians suffer in booking appointments for biometric data capture,” the Minister stated.
Those who accompanied the Minister to the briefing were the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Interior, Dr. Shuaibu Belgore; Controller General of the Federal Fire Service, FFS, CG Ibrahim Liman; Commandant General of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, NSCDC, CG Abubakar Audi; Controller General of the Nigerian Correctional Service, NCoS, CG Haliru Nababa; Ag. Comptroller General of the Nigeria Immigration Service, NIS, DCG Isa Jere; all directors from the ministry and other aides of the Minister.