Amby Uneze in Owerri
The Nigerian Correctional Service (NCoS) has commenced the implementation of the new law signed by President Muhammadu Buhari last year, which changed the name from ‘Prisons’ to ‘Correctional.’
The Controller General of NCoS, Mr. Ja’afaru Ahmed, disclosed this yesterday at the opening of a three-day training of trainers’ course on Non-Custodial Measures, as part of input to human development of the men and officers of the service held at the Correctional Armed Squad Training, Owerri, the Imo State capital.
Ahmed said that the service had gone into another stage of expanding training of its officers so as to get them abreast of the contents of the new law.
The NCoS boss was represented by the Zonal Coordinator in charge of Zone E, ACG Ifeanyi Isaiah Amaliri whose oversight functions cover six states of Imo, Abia, Cross River, Rivers, Akwa Ibom and Bayelsa.
He disclosed that the training was an effort to professionalise the NCoS , adding that the new law does not restrict the activities of the services to a particular sector in implementing the non-custodial measures.
According to him, “you are aware that we have changed name from Prisons to Corrections, the act was signed into law by Mr. President in July last year and the Controller General did not waste time in operationalising the law, making sure that the contents of that law is already being implemented because it has changed our status quo and scope and area of coverage. It has also expanded our base of oversight.”
He said “This is a rare opportunity given to the participants out of more than 30,000 staff strength and these ones were selected to be the first beneficiary of the training. The CG has asked them to showcase importance and attention to the training because they will train others.
“To emphasis more on non-custodial, when we were prisons we did more on custodial that is, making sure that convicts are confined in the prison that was our mandate then. Today our mandate has shifted ground, all though, we still maintain the custodian function, now our mandate has shifted grounds to non-custodians.
“The convicts can be sentenced to parole or restorative justice where matters are settled sentence. The person can be asked to be sweeping the courts, the roads, the government house, that is non-custodian, they are not confined in the prison. And minor offences would be treated that way because only capital matters would be confined as custodian. So, we have advantage for prison decongestion. On capacity of the prisons, we know that all the prisons in the country are more than its capacity, and that is the essence of the non-custodial, when it is fully operationalized,” he stated.
In his remarks, the Training Consultant of Uchefem Consults, Mr. Uche Owete who collaborated with Embassy of Switzerland, stated that the law not only changed the name from Prisons to Correctional, but created two main faculties of the Service to Custodial and Non-custodial Service.
Owete added that the Non-custodial service is responsible for the administration of non-custodial measures such as: Community service, parole, restorative justice measures and such other measures as a court of competent jurisdiction may order.