Non-custodial sentencing: Lawyer urges judiciary to develop manpower

 The Standing Conference of Mediation Advocates (SCMA), an organisation, has urged the Judiciary to develop manpower to improve the implementation of non-custodial sentencing in the sector.

The SCMA, is a multi disciplinary cross-professional trade organisation  established to promote and deliver best and professional excellence in mediation advocacy through in individual and corporate training and commercial activities.The Convener of the SCMA, Mr Valentino Buoro, made the call in an interview with a correspondent of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Thursday, in Lagos.He said that non-custodial sentencing through restorative system is a process for resolving crime that focuses on redressing the harm done to the victims, holding offenders accountable and engaging the community in the of that conflict. ”

The import of non-custodial sentencing is to decongest the correctional and serve as a deterrent to minor offenders.”Non-custodial sentencing as part of restorative has enabled minor or offenders of minor offence to undergo punishment of a practical time like community service.”Such minor offenders are made to work in a public space like controlling , cleaning environments or sometimes asked to return the stolen item to the victim.“Though this is gradually taking off in Nigeria, there is still a lot of ignorance and lack of skilled officials to manage the process.“I think the place to start is to develop the manpower to manage the process.“

Apart from restorative justice practitioners who may facilitate the processes in court, we need other officials or skilled managers who will be able to monitor the process of enforcement.“This can be achieved if the courts give indications to deliberately train professional staffs,” Buoro said.He said though the process was gradually taking off in the country, it would also help to reduce the workload of magistrates and judges in the courts.

He said that the Lagos state Administration of Criminal Justice Law (ACJL) 2015 makes provision for non-custodial measures or punishment – Fines, probation, community service, rehabilitation, deportation, cost, and damages; seizure, restitution,forfeiture and disposition of property. We shall focus on fines, probation and community service.Buoro other states of the federation to follow suit. (NAN)