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Nigerian correctional service and the correctional centre reform agenda

The Nigerian Correctional Service (NCS) like any other correctional institution across the globe is saddled with the responsibility of accommodating awaiting trial inmates as well as convicted inmates for the purpose of rehabilitation. In attempt to do so, the NCS has made concerted efforts to achieve one of the main objectives of its existence despite some of the challenges bedeviling its operations. In attempt to make a scholarly contribution to the Nigerian government, in 2017, I conducted a research on Kano Central and Goron-Dutse prisons, Kano State Nigeria which are correctional centres for convicted offenders. Despite it being so, however, the Nigerian government who is the sole provider and manager of these centres, initially referred to them as Nigerian Prisons. This is a contrary term to that of correctional centre, which is the accepted term in criminology literature. Since the term is used in Nigeria, the area of study known as Nigerian Prison Service, I used this term where relevant, though also referring to the scholarly acceptable term of correctional centre.

The research was able to present divergent perceptions on rehabilitation programmes and facilities in a Nigerian Correctional Service (NCS). The research was done as part of identifying the present rehabilitation strategies and potentials in the NCS. This study is rare by virtue of its focus that examines the impact of rehabilitation programmes, facilities for effective rehabilitation of inmates from the perspective of convicted inmates and correctional centre officials using population-based facts and mixed method approach. Also, the study addresses the scarcity of evidence on the impact of rehabilitation programmes in NCS. A uniformly pertinent gap that the study addresses is the scarcity of rehabilitation programmes and facilities in the effective rehabilitation of inmates. This study also explains why a rehabilitation outcome of convicted inmates in the Nigerian context remains significantly insufficient due to unpleasant correctional centre social settings except they are improved upon. The research is of great importance as it helped in updating knowledge about rehabilitation strategies and understanding the practices in contemporary Nigerian penology.

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Data collated in the course of my Ph.D study were revealing in different ways and based on some of the findings some recommendations were proffered which have to do with the modus operandi of the NCS. One of the recommendations put forward by me was that since prison (Correctional Centres) is the acceptable term in criminology literature, they are meant to correct inmates for the purpose of rehabilitation and reformation and reintegration and not to punish alone, thus serving as a correctional Institution. The name NPS portrays to be offensive, especially to ex and serving inmates, thus leading to labeling and stigmatization. Hence, my study suggests that it should be changed from Nigeria Prison Service to Nigeria Correctional Service. My recommendation has been accepted, upheld and has been implemented by the Nigerian government which suggests that correctional centre reform agenda has been further revisited. Thus, four copies of my Ph.D thesis were made available to the NPS, with two copies to the Headquarters in Abuja and one each to Kano Central and Goron-Dutse correctional centres in Kano State for possible adherence to recommendations that were proffered.

From my Ph.D thesis, I have published five manuscripts in both National and International peer reviewed journals and five other manuscripts are currently under review.

Thus, I wish to remind the President and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces, Muhammad Buhari and NCS on the need make more concerted efforts in making correctional centre conditions adequate to ensure an inculcation of good rehabilitation practices by NCS to convicted inmates. This if achieved, can reduce recidivism amongst convicted inmates, thus leading to a decline in crime rate and high congestion in correctional centres.

Finally, there is need to organize discussions, conferences or seminar presentations in an attempt to finding an everlasting solution to problems bedeviling the NCS and possible implementation of the correctional centre reform agenda.

 

Dr Sadiq Ewaoda Amali Department of Sociology, Federal University Dutse, Jigawa State.

NOMINATE AFRICAN OF THE YEAR 2019

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