President Muhammadu Buhari, has signed a bill into law changing the Nigeria Prisons Service (NPS) to Nigerian Correctional Service (NCS).
The bill also creates two main faculties of the NCS namely Custodial Service and Non-costodial Service, and empowers State Controllers of Service to reject more intakes of inmates where facilities are filled to capacity in order to address the issue of prison congestion.
The Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters, Senator Ita Enang, who disclosed this to State House correspondents on Wednesday, added that the new legislation also empowers the Chief Judge to commute death sentence to life imprisonment, where an inmate sentenced to death has exhausted all legal procedures for appeal and has spent 10 years without execution of the death sentence.
According to Enang, “There are, according to the Act, two main faculties of the Correctional Service, namely: Custodial Service and Non-custodial Service.
“The Custodial Service is to: (a) custody and take control of persons legally interned in safe, secure and humane conditions. (b) Conveying remand persons to and from courts in motorized formations;
“(c) Identifying the existence and causes of anti-social behaviors of inmates (d) Conducting risk and needs assessment aimed at developing appropriate correctional treatment methods for reformation, rehabilitation and reintegration;
“(e) Implementing reformation and rehabilitation programmes to enhance the reintegration of inmates back into the society
(f) Initiating behavior modification in inmates through the provision of medical, psychological, spiritual and counseling services for all offenders including violent extremist
“(g) empowering inmates through the deployment of educational and vocational skills training programmes, and facilitating incentives and income generation through Custodial Centres, farms and industries
“(h) Administering borstal and related institutions;
(I) Providing support to facilitate the speedy disposal of cases of persons awaiting trial.”
The Presidential Aide said under the Nigerian Non-Custodian Service, the non-custodial faculty of the Correctional Service “is responsible for the administration of non-custodial measures, namely: Community Service, probation, parole, restorative justice measures and such other measures as a court of competent jurisdiction may order.
“Restorative Justice measure approved in the Act include victim-offender mediation, family group conferencing, community mediation and other conciliatory measures as may be deemed necessary pre-trial, trial during imprisonment or even post- imprisonment stages.”
President Buhari also signed the Federal Universities of Agriculture (Amendment No.2) Act, 2019
“This Act amends the Federal Universities of Agriculture Act, Cap. F22, Law of the Federation of Nigeria, to change the name of the Federal University of Agriculture Makurdi in Benue State to Joseph Sarwuan Tarka University, Makurdi.”
J.S Tarka was a Nigerian politician from Benue State, and a former minister for Transport and Communications under General Yakubu Gowon. He died in 1980.
Speaking specifically on the two new Acts, Enang said “This bill was transmitted to him on July 20th and was assented to in August, so Mr. President signed within the 30 days period.”