AN APPRAISAL OF THE NIGERIAN CORRECTIONAL SERVICE: THE NEED FOR REFORM


AN APPRAISAL OF THE NIGERIAN CORRECTIONAL SERVICE: THE NEED FOR REFORM  

CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

1.1 Background of the Study

Prisons are public institutions founded by government for the restoration and transformation of persons found guilty or break the law of the land. Prison is seen as a physical structure located at a particular geographical area which bears a one of a kind sort of social environment that is not the same as the larger society where individuals live as per specific conditions (Mc Corkle L, Korn R 1954). Everywhere throughout the world, prisons are built up to fill in as rehabilitation and reformatory establishments with a definitive objective of re-orientating and improving prisoners, so they could come out as useful citizenry (Okeke T 2010). This establishment was set up to help criminal justice system in which criminal offenses are confined pending the final conviction decision is taken to decide the guilt or innocence of the accused individual. Subsequently, incarceration in the event of being found guilty is implemented. Individuals who have been charged or sentenced for one criminal offense or more are required to get re-oriented and turn out to be better to live in the general public when they leave the prison (Okeke T 2010).

The Nigerian Prison Services (NPS) is an imperative Department of the Federal Ministry of Interior and is being controlled by a Comptroller-General of prisons. The Nigerian Prisons Service is regulated by the Custom, Immigration and Prisons Services Board (hereinafter) alluded to as the (C.I.P.B) situated at Gwagwalada in Abuja. It was built up by the CIPB Decree No. 14 of July 11, 1986 and introduced by Col. John N. Shagaya, the then Honorable Minister of Internal Affairs, presently known as Ministry of Interior (and Chairman of the CIPB) on October seventeenth 1986. Be that as it may, directly from the beginning of the board, there is by all accounts obvious disappointment among officials and men of the Nigeria Prisons Services because of instances of prison congestion, inadequate financing of jail, defect on the extant prison laws, and absence of rehabilitative and correctional gear in the Nigeria Prison.

There is more to imprisonment than opening and closing of prison gates. Modern penal management techniques emphasized reform of the inmates or the convicts. The current attitude in penal circles is to see improvement from the perspective of reform and rehabilitation rather than from the perspective of punishment. It is assumed that those who have committed crimes need help, and should be assisted to lead a good life. This view is predicated upon the understanding that those who have fallen foul of the collective norms and laws of the society expressed in criminal laws should be reformed; that is why the term correction is applied to reflect this thinking, argues (Ostreicher, 2003).

Incontrovertibly the administration of inmates in the Nigeria prisons is very out dated. For example, each day, prison directors register inmate name on a blackboard positioned near the prison gate and report to the zonal office which in turn, report to the headquarters in Abuja more worrisome nothing is done as regards their accommodations and reformatory and rehabilitative imperatives shockingly. Successive governments in Nigeria have made recommendations and suggestions to better the operation of prisons, but little or nothing has been done in terms of implementation (Ayuk, 2003).

Recently, the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria gave its committee on interior a two week deadline to submit a report on a bill seeking to improve the appalling condition of the nation’s prisons titled: A bill for an Act to repeal the Prison Act. This bill seeks to provide a legal framework for the comprehensive reform of the Nigerian prison system. Regrettably, this and similar efforts in the past so far, have been inconclusive. For instance, Obasanjo’s government set up a National Working Group on Prison Reform and congestion to audit the state of the nation’s prisons and make recommendations to the government. Successive Attorneys General in the country have equally made recommendations to the government on prison reform following the extensive audit of the nation’s prisons in 2005 - former Attorney General and Minister of Justice Bayo Ojo and the Federal Ministry of Justice recommended to the then Federal Executive Council to declare the issue of awaiting trial inmates (ATI) a matter of urgent national importance. Till date, nothing fruitful has resulted from the reform initiative (Nation, 2010).

It should be noted however, that security of lives and properties still remains the utmost concern of every government and since crime is functional people must consciously or unconsciously “slapped” the law. The issue is, are there structures equipped enough to guarantee reformation of these defaulters? Would these offenders changed to be better citizens or more “hardened” upon release? These issues raised pose serious challenge to our prison and criminal justice system. To guarantee or for prison reforms to be effective, the three instrumentalities of the criminal justice system (Police, Court and Prison) must be responsive.

1.2 Statement of the Problem

Different reform programs have been proposed towards improving prisons in Nigeria. In any case, the hazard of the frailty condition of the Nigerian prison facilities despite everything brings a worry and requires earnest consideration. Nigerian prisons are portrayed by congestion, across the board of malady, poor ventilation, poor feeding and helpless medical consideration. A few writers have distinguished congestion and non-usage of prison reforms suggestions as the significant difficulties going up against the Nigerian prisons (Ibrahim Z., 2012; Obioha E 2011 and Achu AA, Owan EJ, Ekok OC 2013). A report of a 12man presidential committee on prison decongestion revealed that 29,372 inmates out of 41,524 inmates are awaiting trial. Many cells meant to accommodate about 50 inmates were found to accommodate about 150 inmates; all cramped together (Obioha E 2011). According to Njoku (2012), the Kirikiri Maximum Security Prison in Lagos, is overcrowded by 250 percent. The prison, which was built for 956 inmates, is today occupied by over 2,600 inmates of which majority of the inmates awaiting trial (Njoku C 2012). Amnesty International (2012) also exposed the appalling state of Nigeria's prison system. The report uncovered how at least 65 percent of Nigeria's detainees or inmates have never been sentenced for any crime, with some anticipating trial for as long as ten years. Furthermore, the report found that most inmates are too poor to even consider affording an attorney and how the horrifying jail conditions have seriously harming impact on the psychological and physical state of the inmates. According to the National Assembly Legislative Digest (2010) overcrowded prisons inexorably lead to inmates being exposed to improper health conditions that result in the spread of epidemics likely to cause death such as tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS and diabetes. Based on these highlighted problems, the researcher decided to appraise the Nigerian correctional service and examine the need for reform by using Ikoyi Prison, Lagos and Kirikiri prison also in Lagos as case studies.

1.3 Objectives of the Study

The objective of this study is to appraise the Nigerian correctional service and examine the need for reform. However the specific objectives are:

i. To understand the different roles the Nigeria Prison Service plays in ensuring prisoners rehabilitation.

ii. To examine the influence of rehabilitation on prisoners.

iii. To investigate the various forms of rehabilitation works going on in the prison

1.4 Research Questions

The followings are spelt out to be the research questions

i. To understand the different roles the Nigeria Prison Service plays in ensuring prisoners rehabilitation.

ii. To examine the influence of rehabilitation on prisoners.

iii. To investigate the various forms of rehabilitation works going on in the prison

1.5 Research Hypotheses

The following statements are considered to be the research hypotheses

i. There is a significant relationship between prison personnel and rehabilitation process

ii. There is no significant relationship between rehabilitation works and prisoners’ behaiviour

1.6 Significance of the Study

It is hoped that the findings of the study to a great extent will help in improving the performance of the performance of the Nigerian Prison Service towards prisoners’ rehabilitation.

It will also help in giving future research studies on insight into the problems faced by the Nigerian Prison Service in ensuring rehabilitation for prisoners. Above all, it is hoped that the adaptation of the recommendation will go a long way in ensuring a steady and stable rehabilitation and re-integration for inmates of the prison.

1.6 Scope of the Study

This research was limited to Ikoyi Prison, Lagos and Kirikiri prison also in Lagos. These two are considered to be well known prison in Nigeria and therefore this study were suitable to carry out in these places.

1.8 Limitation of the Study

The researcher encountered problems in the course of the study, the problem ranges from financial constraints following the fact that the researcher is a student and there was no extra funding from the outside world for this project. Also getting approval from the prison management to carry out research on their prison took time, due to the bureaucratic process in the prison. Nevertheless, the outcome of this research work is not hampered by the mentioned limitations.

1.9 Definition of Terms

The following terms were used in the course of carrying out this study:

The prisoner: is a person proved guilty of a crime alleged against him/her and legally sentenced to punishment of a confinement in a prison. In other words a prisoner is a person sentenced to penal servitude.

Prison: a prison is a building designated by law or used by the sheriff for the confinement or detention of persons who are judicially ordered to be kept in custody. According to Lectric Law library lexicon (2003) a prison is a place where persons are confined or restrained from personal library. It can also be regarded as a correctional detention or penal faculty. Hence the prison is often referred to as a correctional institution where offenders are confined or punished.

Reformation: (mostly called reforms) this refers to measures calculated to impact moral improvement in a person’s character so that he will be less inclined to re-offer the future. (Ahire 1990)

Rehabilitation: This refers to the post release effort to make it easier for the offenders to resettle in a society (Ahire 1990).

CHAPTER TWO

LITERATURE REVIEW

2.1 Establishment and Functions of the Nigeria Prison Service

The Nigerian prison system was established in accordance with three forms of penal legislation which operate alongside each other in the country; the Penal Code and the accompanying Criminal Procedure Code Cap 81 Laws of the Federation 1990 (CPC); the Criminal Code and the accompanying Criminal Procedure Act Cap 80 Laws of the Federation 1990 (CPA) and the Sharia penal legislation in 12 northern states (which applies to only Muslim members of these states). By its establishment philosophy, the Nigerian prison service is an institution meant to administer penal treatment to adult offenders. Its importance is in the bid to reduce crime in the society. On the basis of imprisonment policy, the prison service was established to manage criminals in prison yards. This constitutional function empowers the Nigerian prison operatives to:

⦁ keep convicted offenders (prisoners) for safe custody,

⦁ keep awaiting trial inmates in custody, until law courts ask for their production

⦁ punish offenders as instructed by the law courts

⦁ reform the convicted prisoners

⦁ rehabilitate and to re-integrate prisoners who have completed the sentences in the prison (extract from prison training manual) (cited in Adetula et al. 2010)

Inferring from the above, the main aim of establishing the prison institution in all parts of the world including Nigeria is to provide a rehabilitation and correctional facility for those who have violated the rules and regulations of their society. However, the extent to which this maxim is true in practice has been a subject of controversy. Instances abound where the prisons have become a training ground for criminals instead of rehabilitation home in Nigeria (Obioha 1995). A casual observation of the population that goes in and out of the prisons in Nigeria presupposes that there are some problems in the system, hence the prisons system has not been able to live up to its expected role in Nigeria. The worry about the manifestation that Nigerian prisons have not lived up to expectations in terms of impacting positively on lives and vocations of inmates has raised several questions that have not yet been completely addressed on the system’s functions and existence. Against this background of the existing gap arising from the questions of functionality of the prisons in Nigeria, this paper articulates the problems that exist in the Nigeria prisons and the reform processes that have been put in place by successive governments to address them. The extent to which these reform agendas have been implemented and the impacts they have had on the overall prison system in Nigeria are also discussed.

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AN APPRAISAL OF THE NIGERIAN CORRECTIONAL SERVICE: THE NEED FOR REFORM



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