In a bid to ensure speedy dispensation of court cases and decongestion of custodial centers, the Administration of the Criminal Justice Monitoring Committee (ACJMC) has advocated for the implementation of the non custodial measures in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
The Executive Secretary ACJMC, Sulayman Dawodu, Speaking at a technical workshop on the implementation of non custodial measures in the FCT, on Wednesday in Abuja noted that, the committee established by section 469 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015 has the mandate of ensuring the full implementation of the Act.
Dawodu said, the ACJMC was specifically tasked with the responsibility of ensuring, speedy dispensation of cases, decongestion of court dockets, custodial centres with collaboration between ACJA stakeholders amongst others.
He said, “Pursuant to its mandate under the ACJA 2015, the ACJMC has begun to concert efforts to ensure the full implementation of non-custodial measures as provided under Part 44 (Sections 453 – 467) of the ACJA 2015 and Part II of the Nigerian Correctional Service Act 2019.
“This is to discuss progress made so far with the constitution of the National Committee on Non-Custodial Measures, implementation of non-custodial and restorative justice and explore possible avenues for partnership and collaboration to implementing non-custodial measures.”
Director District and Magistrate Court FCT Celestine Obinna, maintained that
the tenets of noncustodial sentencing is such that not every case is sent to prison and alternative way of punishment is set as a deterrent.
Obinna asserted that, in carrying out these measure, a chain activity need to be harnessed between the Police, Judiciary, Correctional system and other partner agencies and organisation, adding, a need to work in synergy as the decision of the court is to post the punishment but to ensure enforcement the correctional service and others will come in.
“The extant laws has provision on how to go about non custodial measures, we have the Correctional Service Act providing procedure, the issue now is which law should we follow. This is how to harmonise the laws so that there will be no confusion in the implementation.
“When a defendant is brought in court most times judgement passed is to punish the offender but in the long run punitive measures does not arrive at any justice because at the end of the day, when a person is sent to prison for petty offenses coming out he becomes a hardened criminal.
“At times what the complainant wants is to be compensated but in the measures used sometimes he does not feel like he has gotten justice.The interest of the complainant should be taken into cosideration so that at the end of the day we are able to attain the justice every case need.
While speaking on the challenges Obinna disclosed that “there is lack of proper enlightenment as well as training, as personnels need to be trained to know how to implement it as most times when it is passed, implementation becomes a problem.”
On his part Deputy Comptroller General Head of Non-Custodian Directorate NCoS, Tukur Mohammed reiterated the need for implementation “how to move forward and see to the inauguration of non custodial court, as the parole board have been inaugurated, it is remaining the non custodial courts and without this many things will not be done.
“Funding is also part of what the board needs as when there is no funding there is no way that we can perform creditably.”
Also, Deputy Director Prisoners Rehabilitation and Welfare Action (PRAWA), Ogechi Ogu stated alot has to to be done for the smooth operation of the measures.
According to her, “the complaints we get is that the penal and criminal code are not yet aligned with what the law says around non-custodial measures especially the sentencing.
“So we are asking for the amendment of the penal and criminal code and laws of respective states to align this with the ACJA when this is done what we refer to as minor offences will disappear from our status quo, because we will not have them as substantive laws again, petty arrest, child hawking and the rest will be eliminated.”