FG charts course for quick dispensation of criminal justice
The Federal Government is considering sending a new bill to the National Assembly to address gaps in the Nigeria Correctional Service Act, 2019.
The Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, disclosed this yesterday at the 2nd Controller-General of Corrections retreat for senior management of the service in Sokoto, Sokoto State.
According to him, the new bill is to improve on the Act, taking into consideration the pivotal role of technology in corrections management and the use of non-custodial sentencing in line with Section 470(2) C of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, (ACJA) 2015, to bring it to international standards.
Represented by the Sokoto Commissioner for Justice, Suleiman Usman, the AGF further said that the Federal Executive Council (FEC) had approved the contract for the installation and implementation of the Virtual Automated Case Management System (VAMS), which incorporates an integrated biometric prisoner information that will fast-track decongestion in of custodial facilities in Nigeria.
He said: “The practice directions of 2020 is already helping in reducing correctional congestion through the use of non-sentences. Nigerian Correctional Service and the Federal Ministry of Women Affairs are to review the Borstal Intuitions and Remand Centres Act of 2004 to bring the Act to international best practices.”
For this to be effectively managed, Malami said “a bill to that effect will be presented to the National Assembly later in the year.”
Speaking on the theme of the retreat, ‘Nigerian Correctional Service: Meeting Public Expectations’, the Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola, stressed the need for a string media partnership in changing public perception in favour of the service.
He said it is impossible for the public to know the positive progress made if the media are not effectively engaged.
Aregbesola called on the judiciary to ensure that the maximum time spent, from the time of arrest of suspects to conclusion of their cases in court, should not be more than 12 months.
Speaking on the NCoS Act 2019, immediate past Minister of Interior, Gen. Abdulrahman Dambazau (rtd), said one major issue custodial centres had been battling with overcrowding, therefore an important feature in the new 2019 Act.
He said: “The major issues we observed included overcrowding, old and dilapidated structures, poor welfare for prisoners and prison staff and delay in court processes among others.”