The Controller-General, Nigeria Correctional Service (NCoS), Mr Jafa’aru Ahmed, says the COVID-19 pandemic and lack of funds were responsible for the delayed implementation of the reforms embedded in the Nigerian Correctional Service Act, 2019.
Ahmed, who said this at the One year anniversary of the NCoS Act 2019 on Tuesday in Abuja, said that the Act which was passed last year was expected to reform the nation’s penitentiary system in line with the global best practices.
He disclosed that the lock down occasioned by the 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 vote in the 2020 budget.
He noted that the passage of the Act by the ninth National Assembly had led to 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, has changed the penitentiary system.
This he said, was from its punitive nature to corrections in line with modern trends and global best correctional practices.
“The COVID-19 pandemic nationwide lockdown 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 carried out to give effect to the provisions of the law.
He disclosed that the service had also changed the service logo on all documents, accoutrements and signposts, including the uniform.
The CG also explained that the official vehicles number plates 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, Non-Custodial and Training and Staff Development Directorate, established by the law.
“We have also appointed two Deputy Controller Generals (Covering Duty) for the two new established Directorates as provided by the new Act.
“We also appointed Deputy Controllers of Corrections as in-charge Non-Custodial for each of the state command of the federation, including FCT and Zonal Headquarters,” he said.
The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Interior, Mrs Georgina Ehuriah, in her remarks lauded the Act, which she said, would address the congestion in the custodial facilities and other anomalies in the system.