The training on Section 12 (4-12) of the Nigerian Correctional Service Act 2019 was organized by Nigerian Bar Association Section on Public Interest and Development Law (NBA/SPIDEL) and Prisoners’ Rehabilitation and Welfare Action (PRAWA) on 13th February, 2023.

The training was targeted at building skills of members of NBA, SPIDEL towards implementation of initiatives targeted at activation of section 12 (4-12) of the Nigerian Correctional Service 2019 in partnership with PRAWA. The workshop was attended by 98 participants drawn from the NBA – SPIDEL from across the country, Ministry of Interior, Nigerian Correctional Service, PRAWA, and Journalists.

The Chairman of NBA, SPIDEL, Dr. Monday Ubani welcomed participants to the training and highlighted the importance of the training and urgent need for the decongestion of correctional centers in Nigeria.

Mrs. Omotese Eva, Director, Legal Services, Ministry of Interior in her special remarks, communicated the commitment of the Ministry of Interior to reverse the nagging trend of congestion of Correctional Centers and lauded the partnership of PRAWA and SPIDEL on implementation of activities targeted at achieving this.

Dr Uju Agomoh, the Executive Director of PRAWA, made the presentation on “Decongestion of Custodial Centers & Strategies for Effective Implementation of Section 12 (4-12)) of the Nigerian Correctional Service Act 2019: The Role of NBA, SPIDEL.” Using statistics of Custodial Centers in different states in Nigeria, she was able to illustrate the enormous challenges of over-crowding in some custodial centers in Nigeria and highlighted strategies that can be utilized to address this focusing on Section 12 (4-12) of the Act.

Renowned human rights activist, Mr. Femi Falana SAN made a presentation on “Activating & Sustaining the Reforms – A call for Action to Lawyers.” He observed that what is happening in Nigeria is prison mismanagement, observing that the low population of inmates in custody is not a true reflection the population of Nigeria when compared to other nations in terms of population/ inmates ratio. He noted incessant loss of inmates’ files as one of the hiccups and cited a case of an inmate who was set free by a legal opinion which stated that he had no case to answer but had to spend additional six years in custody due to loss of case file.

The interactive programme saw participants asking questions and making contributions on sundry issues.

Mrs. Ezenobi Blessing Azorbo, Director of Legal Services/Legal Adviser, Nigerian Prison Service reflected on the discussions and commended NBA-SPIDEL and PRAWA for the great work they are doing and for the initiative targeted at decongestion of custodial centres.

Ubani and Agomoh made presentations on “next steps” following the deliberations at the workshop.

The following recommendations were made at the workshop:

  1. There should be synergy between the police, courts and the correctional service so that all will appreciate what is required by law.
  2. There is the need to engage the judiciary on the project.
  3. NBA-SPIDEL needs to sensitize its members to know the importance of the project.
  4. The media should be deployed to give visibility to the project.
  5. There should be designated SPIDEL groups in every state to coordinate activities at that level.
  6. In terms of the appointments by the president and minister, there is need to ensure the activation of all mechanisms as stated in the law.
  7. There should be a centralized database for all detention centres in Nigeria.
  8. Members of NBA human rights committees in all the branches should liaise with magistrates to visit detention centres and secure release of deserving inmates.
  9. Advocacy should be directed to the chief magistrates/judges in states to key into the project.
  10. To resolve the disagreements that occur between the police and magistrates on visitation to police detention centres, there should be an engagement with the office of the Inspector General of Police (IGP) for a smooth working relationship.

The participants commended the Ministry of Interior, NBA-SPIDEL and PRAWA for the steps taken towards activating the implementation of Section 12 (4-12) of the Nigerian Correctional Service Act (2019).

The vote of thanks was delivered by NBA-SPIDEL Council Member, Mr. Emeka Nwadioke.

To volunteer for the NBA-SPIDEL project on decongestion of correctional centres, click here to fill the form.

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