By; Sunday Ode, Abuja.
The Federal Executive Council (FEC) on Wednesday approved N3.5 billion for the purchase of 320 operational vehicles for the Nigerian Prison Service (NPS).
Minister of Interior, General Abdulraman Dabazzau (retd) disclosed this while briefing State House Correspondents on the outcome of FEC, presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari at the Aso Rock Presidential Villa, Abuja.
Danbazzau who was joined by the minister of information and culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the minister of state for petroleum Dr. Ibe Kachukwu and the minister of power, works and housing Babatunde Fashola explained that the procurement of the vehicles would strengthen the country’s criminal justice system.
According to him, it would aso help government to decongest prisons across the country which population as at today stood at 65,000 prisoners.
The minister of interior noted that contract for the purchase of the vehicles would be done through patronage of local manufacturers, vendors and assemblies under the Federal Government’s policy to encourage local firms.
“In our efforts to strengthen criminal justice system and to also contribute towards decongesting the system, we presented a memo for the procurement of 320 operational vehicles for the prison service at the cost of N3.5 billion.
“This procurement is from local manufacturers, assemblies and vendors with Nigeria and the effort is to follow through government policy to ensure that most of the procurement of the equipment and such vehicles are done locally. That will also provide opportunity for job creation and things like that,” he added.
He further stated that “but for the prison system in particular, we are making efforts in a way, you know the prisons being one of the legs of the criminal justice system, the others being the police and the judiciary, is to see how best we improve in terms of conveying prison inmates to courts in particular so that we do not jeopardize the chances of their getting justice.
“And this has been happening because for a very long time the prison system has suffered lack of operational vehicle and as such quiet a number of prisoners remain in prisons longer than necessary, because they do not have the opportunity to be conveyed to the courts. So this is the essence of this.
The Minister explained that the N3.5billion also included monies for the maintenance of the vehicles that would be bought eventually.
“And along the line we want also to ensure that we provide for maintenance to ensure that the vehicles are well maintained and that there used for purpose there are meant to be used.
He noted that “the prison population as at today stands at about 65,000 Prisoners. Out of this, about 70 per cent are awaiting trial. And part of the problem is lack of logistics, because there are 5, 022 courts that on daily basis you have to transport prisoners to attend to their cases.
“There are other issues that have to do with other two legs of the tripod, that is the police and the court. One of the problem of the courts is adjournment of cases, that is also tied to the issue of conveying prisoners to court. This is in addition to the fact that some of those delays are caused by the lawyers.
The third part of the issue is how to strengthen the police in terms of investigations because if the cases are not properly investigated, that too can cause delay in the trails.
Dambazzau explained that government was trying to reduce the number of prison inmates which is being handled by an inter-ministerial committee.
Also speaking, the minister of Power, works and housing, explained that council approved over N1billion for the purchase of three 150 MVA transformers for the Transmission Company of Nigeria.
The Transformers Fashola said will be utilize for the evacuation and distribution of power from three major sub-stations including Shiroro
Fashola explained that “as you know the Transmission Company of Nigeria is the manager of the transition system which is the transporter of electricity, in that it provides service to the generation company to whom they evacuate power and to the distribution company to whom they deliver power.
“They needed three transformers of 150 MVA to be installed in sub-stations in Shiroro in Niger State, Oshogbo in Osun and Kumbotso in Kano State.
“We presented that memo to council and it was approved. The purpose is to continue to reinforce, to expand and to maintain the existing transmission capacity so that as the progress of our incremental power initiative expands and achieves its purpose, Transmission Company is able to competently deliver the power,” he said.
On his part, the minister of state for Petroleum said council approved the resuscitation of the National Council on the Hydrocarbon which is an ombudsman council that meets once a year in an extraordinary time to just review policies in the sector.
“It should be a gathering of people from business, oil sector, oil communities and ministries that are directly or indirectly affected by the policies we roll out in the ministry.
Kachukwu said he also briefed council on attempt by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) efforts to modulate prices and its Vienna meeting.
By; Sunday Ode, Abuja.