Correctional Service Act will help in decongesting prisons ― Malami

The Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN) has described the Nigerian Correctional Service Act, recently signed into law as the much-awaited legislative wand that will adequately address the hydra-headed problems associated with overcrowding and prisons congestion in the country.

The minister was speaking on Monday, while addressing the first national workshop on the effective implementation of the Nigerian Correctional Service Act organised by his ministry, in collaboration with the Presidential Committee on Correctional Service and Reform and the Nigerian Correctional Service held in Abuja.

With the Act in place, Malami said the country now have the much needed legislative backbone for the comprehensive implementation of the national policies and strategies for prison decongestion in Nigeria.

He said the Correctional Service Act  would ensure compliance with international human rights standards and good correctional practices, provide enabling platform for the implementation of noncustodial measures, enhance the focus on corrections and promotion of reformation, rehabilitation and reintegration of offenders and establishment of institutional, systemic and sustainable mechanism to address the high number of awaiting trial persons.

The AGF said under the new dispensation, the Correction Service (Prison) is obliged to take adequate steps to ensure the prevention of torture, prevention of inhuman and degrading treatment against inmates and the prevention of sexual and non-sexual violence and building of inmates.

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Malami disclosed that the Federal Government has approved contract for the installation of Virtual Automated Case Management to fast track the decongestion of Correctional Centers in Nigeria, adding that the system will integrate with the existing Prisons Information Management System to improve the efficiency of the entire justice sector.

He said his ministry is currently working on a standard skill acquisition centre at Keffi Correctional Center as a pilot scheme and that, the training of inmates is ongoing and the upgraded centre will be launched next month.

In her goodwill message, the Minister of Women Affairs and Social Development, Pauline Tallen the enactment of the Act is desirable to deal with issues of social justice of which women and the juvenile are largely affected.

She said the provision of noncustodial measures, institutions and centres provide the framework for education, vocational training and skill acquisition which are areas her ministry is involved in and would like further collaboration to ensure women empowerment, promotion of girl child education and welfare of young persons irrespective of their location.

“The Ministry notes with delight, Section 34 of the Act which provides for separate facilities for female inmates, their special needs and the care of nursing mothers and their babies and Section 35, which also provides for separate borstal for male and female juvenile offenders”, she said.

In his speech, the Controller General of the Nigerian Correctional Service, Ja’afar Ahmed commended President Muhammadu Buhari for signing the NCS Act into law, adding that, the Act is one of the good things that has happened to the Service.

He said if the Act is well implemented, it will have the desired impact in the country’s judicial system, just as he called on state governments to contribute in the funding of the Correctional Centers across the country.

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