Thu. May 30th, 2024
Maureen Okpe

In a joint effort to address the crisis in Nigeria’s Correctional Service system, the Prisoners’ Rehabilitation and Welfare Action (PRAWA) in partnership with the National Civil Society Forum on Detention and Corrections has called for the urgent effective implementation of the Nigeria Correctional Service Act 2019.

 Following recent events at the Medium Security Custodial Centre in Suleja, Niger state, where a significant number of inmates escaped due to severe damage caused by heavy rainfall, PRAWA and the National Civil Society Forum have called for urgent and effective implementation of the Nigeria Correctional Service Act 2019.

The Executive Director of PRAWA, Dr. Uju Agomoh in a press conference on Friday, in Abuja, emphasized the need for enhanced security measures and modernization of the correctional system in response to the destruction of infrastructure and subsequent inmate escapes. 

Agomoh decried the gravity of the crisis facing Nigeria’s correctional system, urging relevant federal and state authorities to prioritize the effective implementation of the Nigeria Correctional Service Act 2019.

She said, “It is essential to take urgent steps to modernize correctional facilities, prevent future incidents, and ensure the safety and security of inmates, staff, and the wider community. Additionally, addressing overcrowding challenges in line with the provisions of the Act is of utmost importance.”

Agomoh noted that the collaboration between PRAWA and the National Civil Society Forum on Detention and Corrections highlights the collective effort to bring about meaningful change in Nigeria’s correctional system. 

She noted that it is now up to the relevant authorities to heed this call for action and work towards a safer, more secure, and rehabilitative correctional system for all.

The recommendations and call to action put forth by PRAWA and the National Civil Society Forum include the following:

“Modernization of Correctional Facilities: The outdated colonial-era facilities in Nigeria’s correctional system are vulnerable to damage, as evidenced by the recent incident in Suleja. Urgent action is needed to replace ageing infrastructure with modern facilities equipped with advanced security measures and technology.

“Utilization of Monitoring Devices: The immediate deployment and utilization of advanced monitoring devices, such as observatory towers, closed-circuit television, body scanners, and electrically activated alarm systems, are strongly recommended. These measures are essential for protecting, controlling, and safeguarding correctional activities, thereby preventing future escapes and enhancing overall security.

“Establishment of Armed Squads and Intelligence Units: The Act mandates the establishment and maintenance of fully equipped armed squads, intelligence, and investigation units within correctional facilities. These specialized units should be adequately trained and equipped to respond swiftly to security threats, prevent unauthorized access or escapes, and enhance surveillance and intelligence gathering.

“Addressing Overcrowding: Overcrowding in correctional facilities exacerbates security risks and compromises rehabilitation efforts. Compliance with Section 12 of the Act, which requires notification of relevant authorities and prompt action to rectify overcrowding, is imperative. The State Controllers, in conjunction with the correctional service, must notify the Chief Judge, Attorney General, and other relevant bodies to effectively address overcrowding within the stipulated time frame.

“Urgent Action to Rectify Overcrowding: Upon receiving notifications regarding overcrowding, the relevant bodies must take immediate and decisive action to rectify the situation within the specified timeframe. This may include the implementation of alternative sentencing measures to reduce inmate populations and alleviate overcrowding pressures.”

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