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States now implementing non-custodial option – NCoS

Some states of the federation have started the gradual implementation of community service option as punishment for offenders, instead of sending them to correctional facilities.

The non-custodial option, otherwise known as community service, is part of the demands of the new correctional act that amended the prisons act.

BDSUNDAY had sought to know what visible changes have taken place, since the signing into law of the bill amending the prisons act.

Responding, spokesperson for the Nigeria Correctional Service (NCoS), Francis Enobore, said states had begun to adopt the non-prison option.

He listed Lagos and Abuja as some of the jurisdictions that put offenders through the community service option.

He said 2,555 persons have so far been sent to various places to offer community service.

“The visible change one can see for now is the gradual implementation of the non-custodial option. There are some states now that have started sending offenders to community service instead of taking them to the custodial facility.

“Lagos State and Abuja have keyed in. January to October 2019 Lagos recorded about 2,553, while Abuja, the Kuje Custodial Centre has just 2 cases,” Enobore stated.

He, however, noted that trainings were being organised for affected officials in the area of restorative justice.

His words: “Let us look at the salient issues the act tends to address. We talked about the issue of congestion which deals with the issues of condemned convicts that sometimes stay in detention even when some of them have exhausted their opportunities up to Supreme Court level.

“Towards the restorative justice which is a component of the noncustodial measures, training are going on now. Presently, we are training people at the headquarters on how to mediate towards the implementation of the act.

“Like in the case of congestion particularly for those awaiting trial, now, it will take the understanding and collaboration of others and agencies of the government that are working with us in the criminal justice system to be able to coordinate effectively to activate that particular portion that gives powers to the Nigerian correctional services to either accept or reject into correctional facilities.”

According to him: “Having exhausted every opportunity at the supreme court table, the state chief judge does not need to wait for any state chief executive anymore as it used to be; he can now commute the death sentence or to life imprisonment”.

 

Stella Enenche, Abuja

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