The Executive Director, Prisoners Rehabilitation And Welfare Action (PRAWA), Dr. Uju Agomoh, has said that the new Nigerian Correctional Service Bill will improve Nigeria’s human rights records, welfare of inmates as well as rights of women and children.
While speaking to the press in Lagos, Agomoh whose organisation provided technical support to the drafting of the bill commended President Muhammadu Buhari for signing it into law, describing it as a very progressive piece of legislation that would change the face of Nigerian prisons for the better and implored stakeholders to ensure speedy implementation.
She said: “The new law aims to achieve many set objectives including compliance with international human rights standards and good correctional practices.
“It provides an enabling platform for the implementation of non-custodial measures, enhances the focus on corrections, rehabilitation and reintegration of offenders, and establishes institutional and sustainable mechanisms to tackle high rate of awaiting trial persons in the prisons.”
Agomoh said that the Nigerian Correctional Service Act 2019 would tackle the incidence of detaining petty offenders in prisons by channeling such offenders through the non-custodial service. She said this would save funds for the government and avoid these low-risk offenders being socialized into the criminal culture by hardened criminals.
“It will also help fast-track implementation of the non-custodial provisions of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015 and the Administration of Criminal Justice Laws of various States by providing the needed support in terms of manpower for the supervision of non-custodial sentences across the States and the FCT” she said.
According to her, the new law will make the correctional service take a more active role in helping manage prison overcrowding by alerting the judiciary, Ministry of Justice and other key stakeholders on impending prison congestion.
“We applaud the provisions of the new law including the provision mandating separate facilities for young offenders and female inmates in all States of the Federation. This will boost their wellbeing while being interned,” she said.