Mr Jafa’aru Ahmed, the Controller-General, Nigeria Correctional Service (NCoS), has blamed the delayed implementation of the reforms embedded in the Nigerian Correctional Service Act 2019, on the COVID-19 pandemic and paucity of funds.
Ahmed, who disclosed this on Tuesday in Abuja at the first anniversary of the NCoS Act 2019, said that the Act was designed to reform the nation’s penitentiary system, in line with the global best practices.
He said that the lockdown, occasioned by the coronavirus pandemic, stalled the implementation of the Act for about six months, adding that no capital projects could be carried out due to the non-release of the capital vote in the 2020 budget.
He noted that the passage of the Act by the ninth National Assembly had stimulated a historic and total transformation of the entire penitentiary system in the country.
According to him, the repeal of the old Prison Act Cap P29 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004 and the enactment of the Nigeria Correctional Service Act 2019 have changed the country’s penitentiary system.
Ahmed said that the approach of the system had changed its punitive nature to corrective nature, in line with modern trends and global best correctional practices.
“The COVID-19 pandemic lockdown nationwide has taken a toll and, therefore, stalled the implementation process of the Act for almost six months.
“As I speak, we are yet to receive the budget for the implementation of the Act. We only relied on our development partners. I know that the government may be working on releasing the funds,” he said.
Ahmed noted that human resources development programmes were, however, executed to give effect to the provisions of the law.
He stressed that the Service had also changed the service logo on all documents, accoutrements and signposts, including the uniform.
The CG also said that the number plates of official vehicles had also been changed to reflect the new order.
He also noted that a two-storey building had been acquired for the two new additional directorates of the Service — Non-Custodial as well as Training and Staff Development directorates — established by the law.
“We have also appointed two Deputy Controllers General (Covering Duty) for the two newly established directorates, as provided by the new Act.
“We also appointed Deputy Controllers of Corrections as officers in charge of Non-Custodial for each of the state command of the federation, including FCT and Zonal Headquarters,” he said.
In her remarks, Mrs Georgina Ehuriah, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Interior, lauded the provisions of the Act, saying that they would address the problem of congestion in custodial facilities and other anomalies in the system.