NGO calls for adoption of non custodial sentences

Dr Uju Agomo, The Director General of the Prisoners Rehabilitation and Welfare Action (PRAWA), has called for adoption of non custodial punishment.

Agomo spoke with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), on workable measures to decongest and enhance the nation’s prison system, as well as to promote effective criminal justice administration in Nigeria.

In the coming year, it is imperative for attention to be drawn, towards the use of non custodial measures in custodial centres,” she said.

She called for a full implementation of the Nigerian Correctional Service Act 2019, especially in relation to non custodial measures.

“The Nigerian Correctional Service Act of 2019 clearly has good provisions on the use of non custodial measures including having different forms of non custodial measure in the whole of part two of the Act

“So, we want to see a situation where the courts will be utilising non custodial measures effectively

“We also want to see a situation where pre trial detention will be at the very minimal; where all the systems that should promote sustainable processes in terms of reducing pre trial detention, are put in place,” she said

Agomo noted that custodial sentences be only given as a matter of last resort adding that all mechanisms which should promote non custodial sentences be put in place.

She also called for an effective implementation of section 12 (4-12) of the Nigerian Correctional Service Act 2019.

“Section 12 provides that no custodial centre shall keep persons beyound the designated capacity of those facilities.

“And all cases of pre trial detention be cases where it is found that such persons or even the society will be at risk, where such person is kept in the community,” she said

Besides Agomo also called for adequate custodial funding and staffing of its directorate, which she said will ensure a proper diversion of functions.

“In 2022, we want to see a situation where activities of welfare officers in custodial centres, are such that will enable proper assessment of the risk and needs of each person that comes into the custodial centres

“Ths will ensure that as soon as such person comes in, they are assesed and properly designated while proper programmes are provided for them to deal with by vocational officers,” she said

Agomo, thereofore, urged on the need for custodial centres to be seen as places where true reformation, rehabilitation, and correction are well implemented

“If implemented, then, we as a nation, will be happy with the outcome in our correctional service,” she said (NAN)