FG strengthens effort towards decongesting prisons

• Says prison congestions will soon be over

THE Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN) on Tuesday said the congestions in the nations’ prisons, now Correctional Service Centres will soon be over.

He said the signing into law of the Correctional Service Act, 2019 by President Muhammadu Buhari in August this year was a major turning point in Prisons Reform and Justice Sector delivery in the country.

The recently passed Act, according to the AGF has some innovative provisions that will address major issues that have been of concern to stakeholders in the Justice sector.

Malami, who was speaking in Abuja while addressing journalists on the proposed national workshop on the effective implementation of the provisions of the correctional service Act, 2019, said the signing into law of the Act was another milestone in the national strategies deployed towards urgently decongesting the prisons in the country.

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He said the guiding principles that ran across the Act will ensure compliance with international human rights standards and good correctional practices, provide enabling platform for implementation of non-custodial measures, enhance the focus on corrections and promotion of reformation, rehabilitation and reintegration of offenders and to establish institutional, systemic and sustainable mechanisms to address the high number of persons awaiting trial.

The AGF disclosed that the Federal Government has approved the contract for the installation of the Virtual Automated Case Management System to fast track the decongestion of prisons in Nigeria.

The system, he said will integrate with the existing Prisons Information Management System (PIMS) for holistic improvement of the efficiency of the entire justice sector.

“It is my hope that in no distant time, the Prisons, now Correctional Service Centres will be fully and systematically decongested.

“The first step towards attaining the objective of the Act is the establishment of a standard Skill Acquisition Centre at Keffi Correctional Centre in December which will be replicated in Correctional Centres across the Federation,” he said.

The Chief Law Officer of the Federation said his office will collaborate with the Presidential Committee on Prisons Reform and Decongestion of Prisons and the Nigerian Correctional Service to host a three-day Strategic Workshop latter part of this month, on the theme, “Towards Effective Implementation of the Correctional Service Act, 2019.”

Malami said the purpose of the Workshop is to sensitise stakeholders, especially Justice Sector Institutions on the provisions of the Act particularly the provisions regarding non-custodial services which is newly introduced.

He said the workshop will provide a platform for the overview and comparative analysis of Correctional Service Act, 2019 and will also engage participants to work together towards the development of a strategic Action Plan to support the deployment of non-custodial services as provided under the Act.

“The plan will comprise of short, medium- and long-term measures that will create the requisite social awareness of the non-custodial services,” he said, adding also that all the State Attorneys-Generals, 36 State Chief Judges, 20 Representatives of NGOs, the Nigerian Correctional Service, Rule of Law Experts, experts on Prisons Reforms and other relevant stakeholders will be invited to the workshop.

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