The Federal Government said it has begun graduate degree programmes in the Nigerian Correctional Service NCoS, noting that there are at present 649 inmates undergoing degree and postgraduate programmes behind bars.

Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola disclosed this Tuesday in Abuja while commissioning 59 operational vehicles of the Nigerian Correctional Service NCoS.

According to the minister, about 1, 000 inmates have also enrolled for the forthcoming WAEC/NECO examinations.

He commended the Service for maintaining a COVID-19 free regime in its Custodial Centres across the nation, saying as part of efforts to guard against the possible contamination of the centres, the government had embarked on a systematic decongestion programme which has now seen the release of 3, 955 inmates.

He dismissed as untrue, the incidence of COVID-19 in a custodial facility in Bauchi State, explaining that having opened the facility to receive new inmates, 17 of such persons were brought in and when they were tested, they were found to be positive for Covid-19, hence the decision to keep them in isolation in order not to cross-infect the inmates at the facility.

Aregbesola who said the federal government has a deliberate policy of turning the custodial facilities into “enterprise centres”, added that the NCoS has contributed to agriculture and food production in the country.

“We reactivated Custodial Farm Centres for large scale agricultural production in piggery, fishing, cattle rearing and poultry in different parts of the country. Three Custodial Farm Centres have been selected for large scale farming based on comparative advantage. They are Kujama Farm in Kaduna State for maize; Lakushi Farm in Plateau State for rice and Ozalla Farm in Edo State for palm oil. We have also procured 25 new tractors, combined harvesters, and relevant implements to enhance agricultural productivity in custodial farm centres”, he said.

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