The Nigerian Correctional Service (NCoS) has embarked on the training of Non-custodial Directorate staff in the supervision and implementation of the part two service act, 2019 Non custodial measures.
The ongoing training at the service headquarters in Abuja in collaboration with British Council, Rule of Law and Anti-Corruption (ROLAC) and Prisoners Rehabilitation And Welfare Action (PRAWA) is set amongst other objective to equip the staff with relevant skills for social investigation, effective supervision, filing of Non-custodial supervision forms as well as provide a platform for brainstorming.
Deputy Controller General In charge of training and development Sylvester Nwakuche in his opening remark at the inauguration expressed appreciation of the correctional service to PRAWA for enhancing the capacity of the service especially the Non custodial directorate through the training.
Sylvester admonished participants to pay attention to the facilitators, who he noted are well versed in non custodial measures within and outside the country
“We are most thankful to the PRAWA team for this training that will go a long way to build the capacity of the Non-custodial service.
“It will be more productive when participants make good use of the opportunity to grasp all that will be taught as they are authority in this area both within and outside the country.
The executive Director and Founder Prisoners Rehabilitation And Welfare Action (PRAWA) Dr. Uju Agomoh in brief overview of the training, stated that it is aimed at promoting the effective implementation of Non-custodial measures in Nigeria and that PRAWA through the collaborators has produced various resource material that will aid officers in supervising non custodial measures.
According to her “when we build the capacity of officers to supervise those who are sentenced to non- custodial measures and we encourage the judiciary to sentence persons who are not at risk, minor offender and divert them from custodial facilities it will help reduce the population and will also make it cheaper for the government
“For example a person sentenced to Non-custodial measures, is in their home in a community, giving his efforts and work for the benefit of the community. Those sentenced on community service are rendering services to that community at no cost to the government. It is cheaper than keeping the person in custodial facilities as he will be fed, maintained and other essentials that will be provided.
“More importantly when many offender realise that they can have community service or probation instead of them pleading not guilty when they are guilty they will accept their guilt and cases can be fast tracked and given alternative to custody. It will also help strengthen that ambit of the correctional service established in the new law that is correctional service law of 2019.
“Actually officers of Non-custodial services as many are already practicing, like during the COVID 19 lockdown there were none custodial sentences given to those who violated the regulation and guidelines. For instance in the FCT over 22000 persons were supervised under Non-custodial services, what we are doing here is to strengthen their capacity as implementation has started we need to increase the scope and application of it, which will deepen and strengthen their capacity and make sure we utilize them so it will not only be to those on community service but also those who are sentenced on probation.
Also, Tunde Oladipo, Deputy Controller General of Corrections Non-custodial Directorate reiterated that the training on officer on effective implementation of the new act is a new directorate as such officers need to be trained and retrained into the new order and create awareness on how to key into the new act especially the Non custodial sentencing; the parole, probation and community service.
Oladipo went ahead to appreciate the FCT command for doing a good job especially during the period of COVID-19, which was effectively implemented stating that other states are following their footstep and will do what they are doing in the FCT command.
Speaking further he disclosed that “this is now a lieu way to decongest the prisons as some are now channel to the Non-custodial directorate. All over the world we have a directorate of custodian and Non custodial measures and so to follow best practice stakeholders met to ensure that this comes to be.
“Those that are not supposed to be in custodial centers will not be kept there unnecessarily. This is one of the best things that has happened to Nigeria because it will reduce cost as more burden will now be reduced and much burden is taken from them.
In the same vein Deputy Controller of Corrections, Officer In charge, Non- Custodial service in FCT Command Ezenwanne Elizabeth hinted that the participants are all of different commands and will go back and duplicate the training to their subordinate to help trickle down the knowledge for wide spread as most command usually have in-house training weekly to update on issues and ways of implementation.
Mrs. Ogechi Ogu Deputy Director PRAWA during the technical session delivered on “Human rights and international instrument on Non-custodial measures” said the purpose of custody is for correction as such adequate facility should be provided in respect to this and anything short of this will amount to an abuse of human right.
“If population is overwhelming in custodial service it will be difficult for officers to provide any correctional service so the use of Non- Custodial measures will go along way in providing alternative that works.