Capacity of the Nigerian Correctional Service in North-east Strengthened

Michael Olugbode in Abuja

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) Country Office in Nigeria (CONIG) with its partners, the Nigerian Correctional Service (NCoS) and the United States Embassy and US Department of State Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL), has officially launched a three-year project to strengthen capacities of selected correctional facilities in the North-east region.

The project: ‘Strengthening the Capacity of the Nigerian Correctional Service in the North-Eastern States’, which is funded by INL, is aimed at assisting the NCoS to build sustainable capacities in selected main facilities in the region to ensure safe, secure and humane custody, taking particular account of the special situation of pre-trial detainees and the need to enhance the provision of rehabilitation and/or social reintegration support for all prisoners.

Also, in light of its geographical focus, the project will encompass detainees and prisoners held for an (alleged) association with Boko Haram and include tailored interventions for this particular category.

A statement issued by the UNODC yesterday read: “By doing so, the project will build on the extensive experience and tools which UNODC has developed over decades to assist countries in managing their prisons systems in line with international standards and norms.

 “With 71 percent of an overall prison population of 71,584 being inmates who are awaiting trial and the reported rise in violent crime across Nigeria, the intervention is timely.”

According to the statement, “Building

sustainable rehabilitation and reintegration capacities of the NCoS, including with regards to the management of VEPs, will ultimately ensure that inmates are treated in line with human dignity, and can support themselves sufficiently upon release, thereby reducing recidivism and the risk of Boko Haram and professional criminals recruiting new followers from among the (former) prison population.

“Genuine efforts have already been made by the Nigerian Government and the NCoS to meet the Nelson Mandela Rules, particularly through the passage of and early efforts to implement the Nigerian Correctional Service Act 2019. With the support of the Presidential Committee on Corrections Reforms and Decongestion, as well as state Attorneys-General and Chief Judges, the NCoS was able to successfully present the cases of roughly 3,000 inmates for release in a bid to decongest the prisons in the wake of the COVID19 pandemic.”

The statement further read: “The service, under the leadership of the Controller-General of Corrections, Haliru Nababa, has strengthened partnerships with international partners such as the UNODC with the aim of adopting best global practices in a way that only sharing ideas and experiences can.”

Nababa, in his welcome address at the official launching, stated that it was his “firm belief that, like every other intervention the NCoS has enjoyed from both UNODC and INL, this project will go a long way in aiding significant value to the operations and administration of the Correctional Service.”

The statement noted that the project aligned with the 2021 United Nations Common Position on Incarceration which at the global level aims at shifting policies towards prevention and non-custodial measures; improving prison conditions and strengthening prison management, and advancing the rehabilitation and social reintegration of offenders.

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