President Muhammadu Buhari has signed into law a Bill changing the Nigeria Prisons Service (NPS) to Nigerian Correctional Service.
The Senior Special Assistant (SSA) to the President on National Assembly Matters (Senate), Senator Ita Enang, addressed State House correspondents yesterday on the Bill.
According to him, the Correctional Service comprises Custodial and Non-Custodial Service.
The presidential aide explained that the Non-Custodial Service was intended to be a place of reformation and that the person sentenced under this will not stay in custody but will have remediation.
The President, he said, has also signed Federal Universities of Agriculture (Amendment No.2) Act, 2019.
On the Nigerian Correctional Service Bill, 2019, Enang said: “This Act repeals the Prisons Acts and changes the name from Nigeria Prisons Service to Nigerian Correctional Service, otherwise known as ‘the Correctional Service’.
“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) custody and take control of persons legally interned in safe, secure and humane conditions. (b) Conveying remand persons to and from courts in motorised 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.”
He said the Act, in Section 12 (2) (c), further states “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”.
According to him, 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.
Enang said 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 added: “Restorative justice measures 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.” Asked the guarantee that the prisoner will get what is due to him, Enang said: “Because the law has stated that the money will be divided into three places – the person who produces will take one third, the prisoner will take one third and the last third will go to consolidated revenue fund of the federation.”
On Prisons database, he said: “The thing is when you enter, your particulars are registered in the prison system. The database cannot be faulted because it has your fingerprints and other particulars.
“The essence of the Bill is to ensure there is enough funding for the service that will take care of the welfare of the inmates and workers. “So, any alleged corrupt practices in terms of ration will be eliminated. The Act also provides that the service retains a percentage of what they generate in addition to budgetary provision to work with, so corrupt practices will be eliminated.”
Enang said the problem of overcrowding has been addressed by the new Act.