By Christiana Ekpa
The House Representatives yesterday resolved to probe N613.5billion appropriated for inmates in 10 years.
The resolution was passed sequel to the adoption of a motion on the ‘Need to investigate the Nigerian Correctional Service’, sponsored by the Minority Leader, Hon Ndudi Elumelu, who decried the well-being of inmates despite the approval of whooping sum of N17 billion annually on feeding of convicts and awaiting trial inmates in the 244 Correctional Services nationwide.
In his lead debate, Hon. Elumelu observed that over N613.5 billion was appropriated for the Nigerian Correctional Service in the last 10 years, with a sum of N4 billion in 2015, N14 billion in 2016, N16.6 billion in 2017 and a higher sum of budgetary allocation in both 2018 and 2019, with each year having over 70% recurrent expenditure, without commensurate result on the well-being of the inmates.
He said: “All over the world a Correctional Service Centre, otherwise called a Prison, is a public institution established by government to provide rehabilitation, reformation and correctional facility services for individual offenders who have at breached the law, with the ultimate goal of re-orienting and re-integrating them back into the society.
“The House is aware that the Nigerian Correctional Service has not been operating and performing satisfactorily to its statutory duties, and instead of functioning as rehabilitation and reformation centres, the scenario has been that of dehumanizing situation and hardening of the inmates.
“The House also notes that the policy objective of the present administration of President Muhammadu Buhari on the Nigerian Correctional Service is to ensure total transformation to a modern reformatory institution, so as to enable it operate in line with international best practices.
“The House is also aware that Section 10(h) of the Nigerian Correctional Service Act of 2019 is to the effect that the functions of the Custodial Service, inter alia, is empowering inmates, through the deployment of educational and vocational skills, training programmes and facilitating incentives and income generation through Custodial Centres, farms and industries as well as Section 24 of the same Act ensures best available health care for mental health of inmates in the criminal justice system.
“The House recalls that the Federal Government has appropriated over N613.5 billion to the Nigerian Correctional Service in the last ten years, with a sum of N4 billion in 2015, N14 billion in 2016, N16.6 billion in 2017 and a higher sum of budgetary allocation in both 2018 and 2019, with each year having over 70% recurrent expenditure.
“The House is further aware that the Federal Government spends an average of N17 billion annually on feeding of convicts and awaiting trial inmates in the 244 Correctional Services nationwide.
“The House is worried that despite the huge and increasing annual budgetary allocations by the Federal Government to the Nigerian Correctional Service in recent years, the situation of the Correctional Service evinces squalor and is characterised by poor feeding, widespread disease, poor medical attention, overcrowding and poor ventilation, thereby contributing to human rights violation of the inmates.
“The House is cognizant of the fact that the inmates deserves good rehabilitation and reformation services in line with the United Nations Convention Against Torture which, in Article 11, provides for
treatment of persons subjected to any form of arrest, detention or
imprisonment from any cases of torture, and Section 34 (1)(a) of the
1999 Nigerian Constitution also emphasises on the right to dignity of
the human persons.”
To this end, the House mandated its Committee on Reformatory
Institutions to investigate the Nigerian Correctional Service and
report back within four weeks for further legislative action.