*80% inmates at correctional centres are awaiting trial – Minister
By Nudoiba Ojen
The Minister of Interior, Hon. Bunmi Tunji-Ojo, has said that the Federal Government will deploy more efficient technology to increase the efficiency in the processing of passports in all its offices with a view to eradicate delay in the issuance of international passports.
The minister, who also bemoaned the overcrowding of correctional centres with over 80,000 inmates in the country, said more than 80 per cent of the inmates are awaiting trial.
The minister, who spoke during a television programme, said that his ministry was seriously working to broaden the scope of non-custodial centres in the country as done in other countries.
To achieve this, he said that his ministry would enlist the partnership of the Ministry of Justice and other agencies and also work on the Amendment of the Correctional Services Act to broaden the scope of custodial and non-custodial correctional system in the country.
Tunji-Ojo bemoaned the long process in the issuance and reissuance of passports in the country, saying his ministry would deploy more efficient technology and as well engage its service providers to improve on their service delivery process for more efficiency.
He said, “Efforts are on to start the production of passport booklet to reduce the foreign exchange being spent on printing outside the country.
He said the problem in the issuance of passport to Nigerians in the Diaspora is also a function of the prevalent system in the country, saying that “efforts are being made to reorientate immigration officers on the need to project the image of Nigeria well as they are the gateway and first point of contact to outsiders especially to encourage foreign direct investors.
“Things cannot continue the way they are and we are making efforts to show officers not ready to comply with the change in work attitude the way out while hardworking ones will be rewarded”.
On the synchronisation of the data base of all the government agencies, he said that with the inclusion of the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) among the agencies in the interior ministry, efforts are being made to harmonize the data base of all relevant institutions to reduce hardship.
Tunji-Ojo said, “We are making efforts to harmonize the data base among all institutions like banks in the country.
He also promised to better equip the Nigeria Civil Defence Service (NSCDC) to ensure more efficiency in the protection of oil pipelines towards reducing theft in the system and boost the nation’s foreign exchange.
Tunji-Ojo praised the efforts of the Federal Fire Service in the country and promised that more fire fighting vehicles and equipment would be procured for more efficient and effective service delivery.