The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has advocated for a constitutional amendment to extant laws prohibiting ex-convicts from contesting elections and holding public offices in Nigeria saying that such a practice negates the essence of reformation which the Nigerian Correctional Service is mandated to administer to inmates.
Executive Secretary of the Commission, Tony Ojukwu Esq who stated this in Abuja Tuesday when he led his management team in a working visit to the Comptroller of Prisons, FCT, Mustapha Iliyasu Atta noted that denying ex-convicts of of their political rights does not show that they are accepted back to the larger society after their incarceration.
According to Ojukwu, the essence of reformation in the Correctional Institution is to make inmates repent of their various crimes while preparing them to go back to the society and continue to live a lawful and peaceful lives, devoid of stigmatization from other members of the society.
The Executive Secretary used the opportunity to thank the President for signing the Nigerian Correctional Service Bill, the National Assembly, the Comptroller General of Nigerian Prisons, Ahmed Ja’afaru and other stakeholders who worked assiduously to see that the long awaited legislation comes on board.
He said that the Bill will certainly be of great assistance in decogesting the prisons as well as releaving the federal government of the huge cost of feeding inmates who are not necessarily supposed to be in custody in the first place, while commending the power given to prisons authorities to reject inmates where there is no space to accommodate them.
Earlier, Comptroller of Prisons, FCT, Atta thanked the Executive Secretary and his team for creating time to interact with his Command saying that partnering more with the Commission will be of mutual benefits to both Institutions especially in the protection of rights of inmates.
He enumerated innovations introduced by the Comptroller General of Prisons including a 300,000 capacity maximum security prison in Abuja which according to him will be replicated in the remaining five geo-political zones of the country to take care of the dilapidated prison structures across the nation.
He also said that trial of crime suspects is being accelerated following availability of more vehicles conveying inmates to and fro courts, which he noted has reduced congestion in prisons.
According to him, educational and health needs of the inmates have been improved upon and over 14,000 officers have been promoted to boost their morale to work.