Home News Reps criticise govs over correctional centres poor state

Reps criticise govs over correctional centres poor state

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The House of Representatives Committee on Reformatory Institutions has accused Nigerian governors of deliberately violating a provision of the Nigerian Correctional Service Act, 2019, which empowers them to build and maintain correctional centres in their domains.

Consequently, the Chairman of the Committee, Chinedu Ogah, said letters have been transmitted to the governors to remind them and the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice of the need to complement the Federal Government’s efforts in building and managing modern correctional services as obtained in developed countries of the world.

Ogah, who represents Ikwo/Ezza South Federal Constituency, Ebonyi State, in an interview with Sunday PUNCH noted that already, the committee had already written to the Delta State governor, Mr Sheriff Oborevwori, promising that the same letter would be transmitted to other governors.

He said, “As the chairman of the Committee on Reformatory Institutions, I have written to all the governors of the 36 states including the Attorney General of the Federation outlining this line of the constitution that is not being implemented by the states. This is a breach of the constitution.

“The Act of 2019 gives the governor of each state the power to build and manage their own correctional and custodial centres but most of these governors have neglected this part of the law. They have defaulted on the law of the land, the amended 1999 constitution. The alteration of the constitution deleted the prison’s service and replaced it with correctional service.

“Because they are not doing this, we have presented a bill on the Correction Service Trust Fund in which a statutory amount should be deducted from both Local State and Federal Governments and used to manage correctional service. The bill has passed the first and second readings. We are still pursuing it”.

He urged the state governors to sit up, adding that 90 per cent of inmates at custodian centres are state offenders.

A copy of the letter obtained by Sunday PUNCH dated 20 September 2023 and addressed to the Delta State governor read in part, “You are aware that the National Assembly, in pursuance of a functional correctional system keyed into the utilisation of non-custodial measures first with the enactment of the Administrative of Criminal Justice Act, 2015 and later the Nigerian Correctional Service Act, 2019 and most recently, the alteration of the constitution which deleted prison from the exclusive legislative list and redesignated it as correctional service in the concurrent Legislative list by the amendment of item 48 of part 1 of the 2nd Schedule to the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (1999) as amended.

“You are also aware that these legislations hinge on decongestion of custodial centres and proper funding of the Nigerian Correctional Service and its formations; human right compliant approach to the administration of criminal justice and generally facilitate reform of Nigerian reformatory institutions for safer communities, national security, and development. Consequently, collaboration among stakeholders to effectively implement the Constitution Amendment Act is imperative.

“To this end, the committee wishes to pay a courtesy call on Your Excellency to collaborate and optimise the opportunity presented by this Amendment Act to improve the Nigerian Correctional system and for other related matters”.

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