Dr Uju Agomoh, Executive Director, Prisoners’ Rehabilitation and Welfare Action (PRAWA), on Tuesday called for effective enforcement of the Correctional Service Act, for better service delivery.
Agomoh, who said this in an interview with Nigeria News Agency in Abuja, described the prisons change of name as long-awaited.
NAN reports that bills sponsored by eight senators and members of the House of Representatives were harmonised to give birth to the Nigerian Correctional Service Bill.
The lawmakers include Senators Shaaba Lafiaji, Oluremi Tinubu, Babajide Omoworare and Gershom Bassey, while their House of Representatives counterparts were Henry Nwawuba, Ochiglegor Igagbor, Danburam Abubakar and Johnbull Shekarau.
The draft harmonised bill of the 8th Assembly was reviewed by the Committee of Interior of the Senate in April 2018 and July 2018.
In early August, the president assented to the bill in early August.
According to Agomoh, enforcement of the act would change the notion that it was meant to punish offenders, rather than correcting them.
“You will agree with me that sending one to a prison is already a punishment. But what is important is that while the person is there, we should be able to reduce the chances of that person committing the same offence when out of the service.
“So, this means that the whole notion of reformation, rehabilitation and eventually working toward the reintegration of such person is achieved.
“This is not the only thing that this legislation is helping Nigeria to achieve; it is also helping the country to create a platform that will help enhance effective implementation of the non-custodian sanction.
“These are contained in the Administration of Criminal Justice Act of 2015,” she said.
According to her, the need for the implementation of correctional service act is important; as the new aspect of the law now puts in place a mechanism that is systematic.
“The implementation will make the prisons, which is now correctional service, not to be passive agency in dealing with issues of prison overcrowding and awaiting trials.
“Rather, it will create a platform to help correctional officers know when there is a problem, and help to identify what the problem is and solve it.
“The new law aims to achieve many set objectives, including compliance with international human rights standards and good correctional practices.
“There are various legislation that encourage that compliance; so, whether in terms of ensuring proper treatment of those who are mentally disabled, as we find in Section 24, whether it comes to the issues of prevention of torture, prevention of bullying or labour, that is afflictive in nature.
“This will help Nigeria if we comply with working with human rights standard, for treatment of persons in prison custody.”
The executive director said that PRAWA would continue to support the process of the implementation.
PRAWA is a non-governmental organisation, aimed at providing security, justice and development in Africa. (NAN)
Edited by Folorunso Poroye/Ismail Abdulaziz