By Sandra Umen
Dr Uju Agomo, Director-General of the Prisons Rehabilitation and Welfare Action (PRAWA), on Friday praised President Muhammadu Buhari for assenting to the Nigerian Correctional Service Act, 2019.
Agomo spoke in Lagos at a sensitisation workshop organised y PRAWA on the Act.
She called for effective enforcement of the Act which she described as long awaited, saying that the enforcement would make the prison system better.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that bills sponsored by eight senators and members of the House of Representatives were harmonised to give birth to the Nigerian Correctional Service Bill.
The lawmakers include, Sen. Shaaba Lafiaji, Sen. Oluremi Tinubu, Sen. Babajide Omoworare, Sen. Gershom Bassey, Mr Henry Nwawuba, Mr Ochiglegor Igagbor, Mr Danburam Abubakar and Mr Johnbull Shekarau.
The draft harmonised bill of the 8th Assembly was reviewed by the Committee of Interior of the Senate in April 2018 and July 2018.
In April 2019, Buhari declined assent to the bill and called for modification which was effected.
In early August, the president assented to the bill.
During the sensitisation workshop with some lawyers and journalists, Agomo expressed delight at the success of the bill, and harped on effective enforcement.
“The new law aims to achieve many set objectives including compliance with international human rights standards and good correctional practices.
“The Nigerian Correctional Service Act will tackle incidences of detaining petty offenders and proffer ways of channelling such offenders through non-custodial service.
“This will save funds for the government and avoid low-risk offenders from being socialised into the criminal culture by hardened criminals.
“It will also help fast-track implementation of the non-custodial provisions of the Administration of Criminal Justice Law of various states, by providing the needed support in terms of manpower for supervision.
She said that PRAWA was satisfied with the provisions of the Act, including the provisions mandating separate facilities for young offenders and female inmates in all states of the federation.
“There is need for implementation of the new law to achieve the desired results; it is important that all stakeholders turn toward supporting and advocating implementation of the new law.
“There is need for sensitisation of all key stakeholders on the law so that they can better understand the rationale for each provision,” she said.