The Federal Government has proposed the decentralization of Correctional Centres across the Country in order to put in place enduring measures for effective management of Correctional Centres for the reformation, rehabilitation and reintegration of offenders back to the society.
The AGF made this known in his address at the opening ceremony of a 3-day National Summit on Correctional Reforms in Nigeria, with the theme: Strategizing for effective correctional system reform and decongestion, on Thursday 5th November, 2020 in Abuja. The programme was organized by the Federal Ministry of Justice in collaboration with the Presidential Committee on Correctional Reforms and Decongestion and The Nigerian Correctional Service
Malami said, “This will allow states to effectively participate through the setting up of their own Correctional Centres to manage offenders who commit state offences while the Federal Government will continue to manage offenders who commit federal offences. He explained that, “These are all measures expected to address the problem of congestion in the Correctional Centres as witnessed presently”.
He said the government has developed an Implementation strategy for the Nigerian Correctional Service Act, 2019 and the implementation of an ICT enabled National Criminal Database to promote effective information management in criminal justice administration, decongestion of Correctional Centres and non-custodial measures.
”Furthermore, we have developed an Implementation Strategy for the Nigerian Correctional Service Act, 2019. This is addition to the implementation of an ICT enabled National Criminal Database to promote effective information management in criminal justice administration, decongestion of Correctional Centres and non-custodial measures.
”Another milestone in the national strategy towards the Decongestion and Reformation of Correctional Centres nationwide is the on-going collaboration between the Federal Ministry of Justice, Relevant Justice stakeholders and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) with focus on implementing Amnesty and Decongestion for Juveniles deprived of their liberty during the COVID-19 Pandemic and beyond”.
The AGF commended the Minister of Interior and the Controller- General of the Nigerian Correctional Service for driving Federal Government efforts at addressing inadequacies of correctional facilities in the country, through the ongoing construction of 3000 capacity maximum security custodial centres in Karshi, Abuja and in Janguza, Kano State as well as deploying other essential cogent measures.
He also commended the hard work of the Presidential Committee on Correctional Service Reform and Decongestion, the Correctional Reform Unit of the Federal Ministry of Justice and the National Summit Technical Committee for their dedication, commitment and interest towards the planning of this critical event.
He expressed deep appreciation to International donor partners especially, the United Nations, Office of the High Commissioner Human Rights and the European Union and Rule of Law and Anti- Corruption Programme, (RoLAC).
Malami on behalf of President Muhammadu Buhari commended and presented a plaque in appreciation to Honourable Justice Ishaq Bello for his demonstrable and unquenchable zeal and commitment. He also commended the International donor partners especially the UN, EU-ROLAC for their support.
In his goodwill message, the Honourable Minister of Interior Rauf Aregbesola said they are proposing Correctional Centres to Enterprise Centres where the convicts will be engaged for skill acquisition while in custody so that when they leave the Correctional Centre they will be working and as well as re-integrated into the society. He called for massive structures in the Correctional Centres that can accommodate a large number of inmates.
The Chairman of the Presidential Committee on Correctional Service Reform and Decongestion and the Chief Judge of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, Justice Ishaq Bello, commended stakeholders and all those who have worked tirelessly in the Correctional Centres decongestion exercise across the country.
He said some of the critical issues to be considered at the summit included, overview of correctional reform and decongestion in the Nigeria, best practices in correctional reforms and lessons from other jurisdictions, deployment of technology in the management of correctional system in Nigeria and strategies for sustainable decongestion of Nigerian Correctional Centres and Children in correctional centres in Nigeria.
Justice Bello said, ”It is expected that at the end of this Summit, the relevant stakeholders who have been brought together at this Summit will develop and adopt a Strategy for sustainable decongestion of Nigerian Correctional Centres”.
”We shall also unveil at this event, ‘the harmonized FCT Sentencing (Custodial and Non-custodial) Practice Direction 2020’ which was developed by the collaborative efforts of the Presidential Committee on Correctional Service Reform and Decongestion, the FCT Judiciary and Relevant stakeholders”.
In her goodwill message, the Acting Child Protection Chief, UNICEF Amadine Bollinger said children in detention centres should be treated based on the Child’s Rights Act and detention of children is not always the last resort.
The Solicitor-General of the Federation and Permanent Secretary Federal Ministry of Justice Dayo Apata, SAN in his welcome address, represented by the Secretary of the Presidential Committee on Correctional Service Reform and Decongestion, Mrs. Leticia Ayoola- Daniels said this year’s theme is ‘’Strategizing for Effective Correctional System Reform and Decongestion’. He added that with other recommendations put in place, Nigerian Correctional Centres will meet up with the International best practices.
Also in attendance are Representatives of National Human Rights Commission and Inspector-General of Police, DG Nigerian Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, Prof Ladan Mohammed, Heads of Nigerian Bar Association, Chief Judge, Federal High Court, Hon. Justice Tsoho, Ms.Kate Henshaw, Barr. Kanayo Kanayo (Veteran film Actor and Actress) and other notable stakeholders.