The Nigeria Correctional Service formerly known as the Nigeria Prisons Service is a Government Institution established to support the criminal justice system and guarantee public security by providing support in the reformation, rehabilitation and reintegration of those who violate criminal laws. The Correctional Service is a parastatal under the Ministry of Interior and is headed by the Controller-General, Ahmed Ja’afaru.

The Nigeria Correctional Service Bill 2019 was sponsored by the former Chairman of the Senate Committee on Interior, Senator Andy Uba in his desire for a total transformation in the management and administration of the Prisons. The former Senator noted that the new law will foster a better administration of criminal justice in Nigeria, bring about prison decongestion and ensure that the Nigeria Prison Administration System is at par with International best practices. On 14th August, 2019, President Muhammadu Buhari assented to the Bill which is now known as The Nigerian Correctional Service Act, 2019. The Act repeals the Prison Act Cap P29, Laws of the Federation, 2004 and changes the name from Nigeria Prisons Service to Nigeria Correctional Service.

According to the Act, there are two main faculties of the Correctional Service namely; Custodial and Non-Custodial Service. The Custodial Service relates to the administration and supervision of persons remanded in custody while Non-Custodial is the aspect that serves as an alternative to going to a custodian center. It is responsible for the administration of measures which include community service, probation, parole and restorative justice.

In recognition of the fact that overcrowding was and still is one of the problems that bedevil Nigeria Prisons, the Act contain key provision authorizing the State Controller to notify the relevant bodies within one week where a Custodian Centre has exceeded its capacity. The notified bodies shall within 3 months of the notification take necessary steps to rectify the overcrowding.

The Act also empowers the State Controller in conjunction with the Superintendent to reject more intakes of inmates where the Correctional Centre is filled to capacity.  The State Controller and the Superintendent shall be sanctioned where they respectively fail to notify the relevant body within the stipulated time that the Correctional Centre has exceeded its capacity and accept inmates after the expiration of the notification timeline.

Further, the Act gives those sentenced to death a ray of hope by providing that where an inmate sentenced to death has exhausted all legal procedure for appeal and the sentence has not been executed after 10 years, the Chief Judge may commute the sentence of death to life imprisonment.

Other provisions of the Act which emphasize the purpose of the Correctional Centre as a reformation and rehabilitation structure include the provisions for the Custodial Service to; conduct risk and needs assessment aimed at developing appropriate correctional treatment methods, prevention of torture, inhumane and degrading treatment, prevention of sexual and non-sexual violence against inmates, establishment of healthcare services for the promotion and protection of the physical and mental health of the inmates and providing opportunities for education and vocational training of inmates.

The provisions of the Act and the change of name are welcome developments aimed at enhancing the condition of Nigeria Prisons and reflecting the purpose for which the Prison facility exist, however, the change of name will only be a myth if there is no corresponding implementation of the provisions of the Act, efficiency and effectiveness of the criminal justice system and a change in the methodology hitherto applied in the management and administration of Nigeria Prisons.  It is hoped that the Service will be operated to reflect its new name.


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