By Victor Akaa with Agency report
President Muhammadu Buhari has signed into law a legislation by the National Assembly changing the name of Nigeria Prisons Service to Nigeria Correctional Service.
The law also creates two broad departments namely: Custodial Service and Non-custodial Service.
By this legislation, according to some experts, State Controllers of Service are now empowered to reject more intakes of inmates where facilities are filled to capacity in order to address the issue of prison congestion.
The Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters (Senate), Ita Enang, who confirmed this development, said: “There are, according to the Act, two main faculties of the Correctional Service, namely: (a) Custodial Service (b) Non-custodial Service”.
The Custodial Service is to: (a) take custody and control of persons legally interned in safe, secure and humane conditions. (b) Conveying remand persons to and from courts in motorized formations; (c) Identifying the existence and causes of anti-social behaviours of inmates (d) Conducting risk and needs assessment aimed at developing appropriate correctional treatment methods for reformation, rehabilitation and reintegration; (e) Implementing reformation and rehabilitation programmes to enhance the reintegration of inmates back into the society.
(f) Initiating behaviour modification in inmates through the provision of medical, psychological, spiritual and counselling services for all offenders including violent extremists. (g) empowering inmates through the deployment of educational and vocational skills training programmes, and facilitating incentives and income generation through Custodial Centres, farms and industries (h) Administering borstal and related institutions; (I) Providing support to facilitate the speedy disposal of cases of persons awaiting trial; and It further provides in Section 12 (2) (c):
“that where an inmate sentenced to death has exhausted all legal procedures for appeal and a period of 10 years has elapsed without execution of the sentence, the Chief Judge may commute the sentence of death to life imprisonment”.
And Section 12 (8) empowers the state Controller of the Service to reject more intakes of inmates where it is apparent that the correctional centre in question is filled to capacity.
According to the presidential aide, the non-custodial faculty of the Correctional Service is responsible for the administration of non-custodial measures, namely: Community Service, probation, parole, restorative justice measures and such other measures as a court of competent jurisdiction may order.
He disclosed that the restorative Justice measure approved in the Act include “victim-offender mediation, family group conferencing, community mediation and other conciliatory measures as may be deemed necessary pre-trial, trial during imprisonment or even post- imprisonment stages.”
Mr Enang further revealed that the President also signed into law Federal Universities of Agriculture (Amendment No.2) Act, 2019.
“This Act amends the Federal Universities of Agriculture Act, Cap. F22, Law of the Federation of Nigeria to change the name of the Federal University of Agriculture Makurdi in Benue State to Joseph Sarwuan Tarka University, Makurdi,” he said.