Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari has assented to an act, changing the name of Nigeria Prisons Service to Nigerian Correctional Service.
The Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters, Senator Ita Enang, disclosed this to State House correspondents on Wednesday.
According to him, the Nigerian Correctional Service Act, 2019, repeals the Prisons Acts and changes the name from Nigeria Prisons Service to Nigerian Correctional Service, otherwise known as “the Correctional Service.”
The new law allows inmates on death row that have spent more than ten years without execution and has exhausted all legal procedures for appeal and a period of ten years has elapsed for the sentence to be commuted to life imprisonment.
Enang explained: “There are, according to the act, two main faculties of the Correctional Service, namely: Custodial Service and Non-custodial Service.
“The Custodial Service is to: (a) Take custody and control of persons legally interned in safe, secure and humane conditions. (b) Conveying remand persons to and from courts in motorised formations;
(c) Identifying the existence and causes of anti-social behaviours of inmates.
(d) Conducting risk and needs assessment aimed at developing appropriate correctional treatment methods for reformation, rehabilitation, and reintegration.
(e) Implementing reformation and rehabilitation programmes to enhance the reintegration of inmates back into society.
(f) Initiating behaviour modification in inmates through the provision of medical, psychological, spiritual and counseling services for all offenders including violent extremists.
(g) Empowering inmates through the deployment of educational and vocational skills training programmes, and facilitating incentives and income generation through custodial centres, farms and industries.
(h) Administering borstal and related institutions.
(I) Providing support to facilitate the speedy disposal of cases of persons awaiting trial, and it further provides in Section 12 (2) (c):
“that where an inmate sentenced to death has exhausted all legal procedures for appeal and a period of ten years has elapsed without execution of the sentence, the chief judge may commute the sentence of death to life imprisonment. And Section 12 (8) empowers the state controller of the service to reject more intakes of inmates where it is apparent that the correctional centre in question is filled to capacity.”
Enang said under the Nigerian Non-Custodian Service, the non-custodial faculty of the Correctional Service “is responsible for the administration of non-custodial measures, namely: community service, probation, parole, restorative justice measures and such other measures as a court of competent jurisdiction may order.
“Restorative justice measure approved in the act include victim-offender mediation, family group conferencing, community mediation and other conciliatory measures as may be deemed necessary pre-trial, trial during imprisonment or even post- imprisonment stages.”
Asked how long should the president assent to bills that was passed by the 8th Senate-Assembly that was dissolved June 8th, 2019, Enang said: “When a bill is passed it goes through a process – National Assembly management, particularly the legal department of the office of the clark to National Assembly. The time of Mr. President begins to run from the date that the bills were transmitted to him.
“The time doesn’t begin to run from the date the bills were passed. It is 30 days from the date when the bill was transmitted to him. This bill was transmitted to him on July 20 and was assented to in August, so Mr. President signed within the 30 days period.
“After bills are passed by the legislature, there are still other processes of assembling which the clerk of the Assembly undertakes before he forwards to us. I believe these are one of the few bills remaining; I won’t say another will not come.”
Enang said: “The essence of the bill is to ensure there is enough funding for the service that will take care of the welfare of the inmates and workers. So any alleged corrupt practices in terms of ration will be eliminated. The act also provides that the service retains a percentage of what they generate in addition to budgetary provision to work with, so corrupt practices will be eliminated.”
President Buhari also signed the Federal University of Agriculture (Amendment No.2) Act, 2019.
“This Act amends the Federal University of Agriculture Act, Cap. F22, Law of the Federation of Nigeria to change the name of the Federal University of Agriculture Makurdi in Benue State to Joseph Sarwuan Tarka University, Makurdi.”
Tarka was a Nigerian politician from Benue State and a former minister for Transport and then Communications under General Yakubu Gowon.
He died in London on March, 1980.