The Nigerian Prisons Service (NPS) has obtained a waiver to employ 6,545 staff in different cadre with a budget of N6 Billion made available for the new personnel as the Service has inadequate personnel.
The Comptroller General of Nigerian Prisons Service (NPS) Jaffaru Ahmed who disclosed this yesterday during the 2017 Budget defence the House of Representatives Committee on Interior also hinted that the service was set to mechanize Agriculture in prison farms nationwide.
He said that this was to enable prisoners produce enough food to feed themselves and reduce high financial burden laid on the Federal government.
According to him, “the Service spends over N16 Billon each year to feed about 72,000 inmates spread across all the prisons in the country.
He pointed out that the 2016 Budget performance had an outstanding of N5 Billion owed contractors for the feeding of Prisoners.
The Comptroller General also said that on assumption of office he had to change the work schedule from three shift to two explaining that it portends danger as some personnel overstayed in a place making it easy for them to become accomplices in jail break.
He stated that although Prison was not a revenue generating agency, yet the service was able to generate about N40.1 Million in 2016 which had been paid into the national treasury.
He said that the service was not allowed to retain any of its revenue unless it was generated from the Prison Industry workshop where the inmates directly involved in the production were given one third of the revenue while the rest goes to government.
The Prison boss disclosed that about 27,992 work force of the service could not be paid their salary as at when due in 2016, adding that only N27.9 Billion was released out of N34.9 proposed for personnel.
He added that additional N3.9 Billion intervention fund was later released by the Ministry of Finance.
He said that out of N14 Billion appropriated for 2016 Capital expenditure, only N3.6 Billion was released, the service purchased only 117 vehicles out of 350 vehicles proposed while projects are at various levels of completion in 91 projects site out of 121 projects recommended in 2016 Budget.
The CG reiterated the need to relocate prisons from urban centres while massive rehabilitation is urgently needed in most of the prisons to avoid jail breaks, saying that out of 241 prisons in the country, about 200 were constructed in the colonial days dating back to 1896, and about 139 sandwiched in the metropolis.
According to him, “we need enough money and massive money to rehabilitate prisons, build new prisons and get away from urban centers
“There is need to move prisons out of urban centers because there is no room of expansion, to site industries and install equipment for food processing and reduce the burden on government, some of them are over 100 years” Ahmed said.
On the 2017 Budget the Comptroller General said that N72.3 Billion was proposed out of which N37.5 was marked for personnel, N19 Billion for overhead, fedding of prisoners N16 Billion, feeding of dogs, vulnerable groups and duty staff N3 Billion, N4.1 Billion for fuelling of Mini maria.
The House Committee Chairman on Interior, Hon. Jagaban Adams Jagaban who called for an executive session with the management of NPS, advised them to be fair during the recruitment process just as they acknowledged the efforts of the new prison management to prevent new occurrences of jail break.