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Senate to engage executive in de-congesting custodial centres

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The Senate has pledged to engage the executive arm of government in a bid to de-congest the nation’s custodial centres.

Chairman, Senate Committee on Interior, Sen. Kashim Shettima, disclosed this on Friday when he led members of the committee on a tour of the headquarters of the Nigeria Correctional Services (NCoS).

Shettima, who lamented the large number of inmates awaiting trial, said the committee would support the service in tackling the trend.

“Awaiting trial is an issue that is agitating our mind for some time. But we cannot work in isolation with other government agencies and organisations.

“We will open a line of conversation with the Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation and the Federal Ministry of Justice to see and explore avenues of de-congesting our prisons.

“This is because the awaiting inmates constitute about 72 per cent of the total population of inmates in the prison. If we can just get rid of 50 per cent of them sorted out, I believe correctional service congestion will be drastically addressed,” he said.

He, however, said the committee was at the service in fulfillment of its statutory obligation.

“We are here to perform our oversight functions since the change in nomenclature, in mandate of this organisation from Nigeria Prisons Service to Nigerian Correctional Services and in line with global best practices,” Shetima said.

The lawmaker, who also raised concerns over the lean budgetary allocation to the service, said given the resources at their disposal,” it is mightily impossible for them to perform their expanded mandate.

“We know resources are thin, but we have to find some ingenious windows of supporting them toward accomplishing their goals,” he said.

In his address, NCoS Controller General, Haliru Nababa, listed the challenges of the service to include over crowding as a result of large number of awaiting trial persons, inadequate manpower; professionals and non professionals.

Others, Nababa said, were paucity of funds for training and retraining of staff especially on the new Nigeria Correctional Service Act and low funding for effective implementation of the non-custodial service.

“Limited number of arms and ammunition to guard and protect the 244 custodial centres all over the federation and inadequate operational vehicles for court duties and court escort,” Haliru said.

He, however, recommended the recruitment of more staff for the new Custodial Service Directorate, calling on states and local governments to provide office accommodation and vehicles for successful implementation of the non-custodial measures.

Naomi Sharang

NEWSVERGE, published by The Verge Communications is an online community of international news portal and social advocates dedicated to bringing you commentaries, features, news reports from a Nigerian-African perspective.A unique organization, founded in the spirit of Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, comprising of ordinary people with an overriding commitment to seeking the truth and publishing it without fear or favour.The Verge Communications is fully registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as a corporate organization.

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