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Prisons get rights to reject prisoners

The Controller-General of Nigerian Correctional Service (NCS), Ja’afaru Ahmed, on Thursday said the service can now reject prisoners following its restructuring.

Addressing a press conference at the Service headquarters in Abuja, the Controller-General said the Act establishing the NCS had given it the right to turn back prisoners following the overcrowding of prisons in the country.

The former Nigeria Prisons Service was recently changed to Nigerian Correctional Service as part of the Federal Government’s reforms in the service.

He said Prisons all over the country have a total of 73, 102 inmates in custody as at 2nd September, 2019 with 50, 216 of then still awaiting trial.

“On overcrowding, the new Act now provides a statutory procedure for rejecting inmates on account of lack of space.  Sect. 12 (4) states; where the Custodial Centre has exceeded its capacity, the State Controller shall within a period not exceeding one week, notify the: Chief Judge of the State;  The Attorney General of the State;  Prerogative of Mercy Committee; State Criminal Justice Committee; and Any other relevant body. “Sub-section (7) states: upon receipt of the notification referred to in subsection (4), the notified body shall, within a period not exceeding three months, take necessary steps to decongest the facility if it must accept more inmates.

“Then subsection (8), specifically empowers the State Controller of Correctional Service in conjunction with the officer in-charge of the facility, to reject more intake of inmates where it is apparent that the Correctional Centre in question is filled to capacity,” he said.

Ahmed also disclosed that the new Act had provided that “where an inmate sentenced to death has exhausted all legal procedures for appeal and a period of 10 years has elapsed without the execution of the sentence, the Chief Judge may commute the sentence of death to life imprisonment. “

He said previously, this category of inmates lived under the suspense and mental torture of death which the appropriate authorities would neither sign nor easily commute to life imprisonment.

The NCS boss confirmed that there are 2,653 prisoners awaiting the hangman’s noose within the prisons.

The Controller-General also disclosed that new Act now forbids the use of correctional facilities for indiscriminate dumping of persons without due regard to their state of health or age.

Ahmed said: “Section 13 subsection (3) states; A Superintendent shall refuse to admit persons brought in: with severe bodily injury; Who is: mentally unstable, or in an unconscious state of mind, or underage.”

The NCS boss also revealed that whoever stigmatised convicted inmate who had been issued with a certificate by the Chairman of the Board on the recommendation of the CG will face the wrath of the law, adding that the Certificate enables him to engage and compete for social recognition without the toga of ‘ex-convict’”.

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