By Vivian Okejeme, Abuja
The Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami, SAN, yesterday informed that plans are underway to decentralize Correctional Centres across the country.
Malami said the move 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.
The AGF, in his address at the opening ceremony of the National Summit on Correctional Reforms in Nigeria, yesterday, in Abuja, said the government have developed an Implementation strategy for the Nigerian Correctional Service Act, 2019 and the implementation of an ICT enabled National Criminal Database.
According to him, the move is to promote effective information management in criminal justice administration, decongestion of Correctional Centres and non-custodial measures.
The AGF said, ‘’In a recent event with the State Heads of Courts and Attorneys-General, I had mentioned that 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 decentralization of Correctional Service in the Country has been proposed. 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. These are all measures expected to address the problem of congestion in the Correctional Centres as witnessed presently.
‘’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 minister 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).
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 include, 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’’.