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Stats: 3,105,041 members, 7,662,058 topics. Date: Wednesday, 29 November 2023 at 11:40 PM
|Kuje Prison Attack - The Wages Of Neglect by emmiesky(m): 4:42pm On Jul 12, 2022|
Nigerian Correctional Service: The wages of neglect
It is quite unfortunate that the Nigerian Correctional Service is in the news not for the invaluable efforts and sacrifices of the officers and men of the service but for unconstructive condemnation, particularly by those with poor knowledge of the plight, operations, and activities of the service. The most disturbing of these criticisms is the audacity of those who are constitutionally responsible for the operation of the service to also join in the condemnation.
Between 2017 and July 2022, about 15 custodial centres have been attacked, with over 3,000 inmates let loose. Despite these system-induced failures, the service has been working tirelessly to ensure that her constitutional responsibilities of safe custody of legally interned persons, movement of inmates to and from courts, reformation, rehabilitation, and reintegration of inmates remain her priorities.
Of all the security agencies in Nigeria, the Nigerian Correctional Service receives the least attention from the federal and state governments despite the significant role it plays in national security. An agency that generates little or no income but is central to national development is left to care for itself.
During national security council meetings, the three security agencies under the armed forces are duly represented by their heads. The chief of defence staff and the minister of defence are present, so is the minister of police affairs and the Inspector General of Police. The head of the Nigerian Correctional Service and other security agencies under the Ministry of Interior are absent—represented by their minister, a political appointee with little or no knowledge of the activities of the services.
The president has never had a one-on-one discussion with the head of the correctional service. How then, does the controller general of this important agency share his experience, challenges, achievements and intelligence with the president?
Does it mean that the security agencies in the Ministry of Interior are not important? Why the hullabaloo whenever the available security and efficiency in the custodial centres are breached and inmates on the run if the agency is neither important enough nor worthy to be heard directly by the President?
Does this not amount to shedding crocodile tears?
The structures in the custodial centres and those in the barracks for staff are largely those of the colonial era. Others were put in place by individuals who had either passed time in these centres or out of generosity. Efforts have only been made on paper to reform the custodial service system in Nigeria.
Logistics is another major problem the service has been striving hard to address to ensure that inmates are taken to and from courts as at when due. The means of transporting inmates are grossly inadequate and/or archaic. Working tools are hardly available. The few available ones are outdated and do not fit for modern day security arrangements. No custodial centre in the country has a functional closed-circuit television (CCTV), while many have never had any installation of a closed-circuit television. Staff buses are not available across the states of the federation. Only the federal capital territory has one or two. The staff are often cramped up with inmates in the regular rickety Green Maria, to and from court duties. In a nutshell, the working conditions of service, both in the custodial centres and on court duties, are pathetic.
The service is understaffed, especially in custodial centres that are overcrowded. The few available are overused. Some are on duty for not less than 13 to 15 hours a day, depending on the state of activities at a custodial centre. Leave and allowances are not the rights of a Nigerian Correctional Service staff. Most staff are on duty for years without benefitting from annual and other leaves as stipulated in the Public Service Rules. They only enjoy scattered days off duty.
Allowances as contained in the Public Service Rules are not paid to staff. Promotion is a privilege and not a right. Arrears are not paid to promoted staff when due. Whenever they pay for this entitlement, many do not get theirs, while the few that get are grossly underpaid. The few available outdated staff quarters do not accommodate 10% of the available staff.
For years, it has been mere talk without action on changing the service uniform. This has lingered and is fast becoming a foregone project. The much-touted harmonisation of ranks and salaries to match those of other security agencies, particularly the police, is a mere political statement. The officers and men of this service are passing through their own hell on earth.
On custodial centres congestion and its consequences, the judiciary is a major contributor to this cankerworm. It is very easy for our learned fellows to speak in public forums on the inadequacies of the correctional service but keep mute on their roles in the long list of awaiting trial inmates in these custodial centres. Over 80 percent of the inmates in custodial centres across the federation are awaiting trial. Many of these inmates do not know their adjournment dates due largely to the everyday absence of their magistrates and judges without prior notice to the officers of the correctional service or their lawyers. The judiciary does not have a database of all the suspects standing trial in their respective courts. This could have been used to prepare reproduction warrants for all the inmates standing trial in their courts who, for one reason or the other, had missed their adjournment dates to appear in their respective courts on later dates.
Magistrates and judges attend seminars; go on long vacations, and other “judicial assignments” at the expense of inmates standing trials in their courts. Their cases are not assigned to available judges/courts but adjourned farther without recourse to the time inmates spend awaiting trial. This leaves many inmates anxious in the custodial centres with more work for the custodial officers.
The prosecuting agencies, largely dominated by the police, have been another major contributor to the needless congestion of the Nigerian Correctional Service. Globally, investigation precedes arrest. But for the prosecuting agencies in Nigeria, arrest comes before investigation. Without equipping themselves with enough evidence to prosecute their cases, they inundate courts with remand orders, keeping suspects beyond the constitutionally allowed time while awaiting trials. In the long run, they lose most of these cases for lack of admissible and/or convicting evidence.
Unfortunately, many suspects are in police and EFCC custody and custodial centres today without charges. They are at the mercy of the remand orders given by courts/judges that ought to know better and check these anomalies. But they are not helping matters. They keep inmates in custodial centres with no witnesses to pursue their cases. The courts, rather than discharging such cases for want of due diligence prosecution, leave these inmates in custodial centres adding to the already overstretched facilities.
On the state of the custodial centres, the respective state governments care less about their activities. Many of the inmates are state offenders. Unfortunately, the state governments, particularly Lagos and Rivers states (with the largest number of state inmates in the federation), have contributed little or nothing to the operations of Nigerian Correctional Service. The administration of criminal justice system is seated on a tripod of police, judiciary, and correctional service. Of these agencies, the correctional service receives tokens from the state governments compared to the number of state inmates in their facilities. Out of every 200 vehicles, for instance, bought by a state government for security agencies, hardly does the correctional service get two to three of these vehicles. And this comes once in a blue moon.
The armed forces are reasonably funded and equipped. Same with the police, but the correctional service is left to beg to be funded and equipped. And we want the centres to be formidable and immune from attacks?
No matter how well the armed forces and the police are funded, equipped and reformed, if the Nigerian Correctional Service is not better funded, equipped and reformed to perform its constitutionally responsibilities, all these efforts will be in vain; national security will be threatened and national development will be impossible.
By Owolabi Alani.
On Jul 11, 2022
|Re: Kuje Prison Attack - The Wages Of Neglect by emmiesky(m): 4:47pm On Jul 12, 2022|
Please push to front page. Thanks.
|Re: Kuje Prison Attack - The Wages Of Neglect by Tonypen247(m): 4:47pm On Jul 12, 2022|
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