The House Of Representatives has called for an investigation into the “deplorable state” of the nation’s correctional service despite the over N165 billion budgetary allocation in the past two years.
The resolve followed the adoption of a motion of urgent public importance moved by Ndudi Godwin Elumelu (Peoples Democratic Party, Delta).
The investigation will also cover the ‘unwholesome’ working conditions of officers and men of the service who still make use of obsolete arms and make their uniforms from their own resources.
The House also noted that the investigation will cover claims of allegations of denial of rights and benefits levelled against the management of the Service with the resultant effect on the current security challenges in the country.
The Minority House leader, Elumelu, noted that “upon the enactment of the Nigeria Correctional Service Act 2019, Nigeria joined most countries of the world in adopting modern correctional alternatives to incarceration or imprisonment including non–custodial measures.
“Aware that the extant Act situates the workforce of the Service as the single most important resource available to the correctional system and thus prioritized the welfare of these officers and men in line with international best practices to propel them to optimal performance;
“Disturbed that despite this Act and increase in budgetary allocations to the Nigerian Correctional Service to drive its renewed mandate, the tempo and quality of the Service have remained the same if not retrogressing;
“Worried that the working conditions of staff and inmates’ welfare have deteriorated notwithstanding the over N165 billion budget allocations to the Service in the last two years;
“Observed that the Arms Squad unit of the Service still parades obsoletes and substandard weapons despite over N1 billion budget provision for Prison Biometrics, Arms and Ammunition in the 2020/2021 capital budget; thus, impeding its ability to deter, prevent or respond effectively to both internal and external threats; the House is aware of deaths of correctional officers and men across the country following attacks either on escort vehicles or custodial facilities;
“Also observed that Staff still buys or makes their uniform till date regardless of the huge budget allocations provided for this purpose, provision of uniform for inmates is nonexistence in most Custodial centres;
“Further observed that in addition to allegations of non-utilization of Budget allocations in the manner prescribed by the National Assembly and administrative incompetence of drivers of change in the rebranded Service, there are also claims of unscrupulous staff promotion, denial of rights and benefits including hazard and duty tour allowances levelled against the management of the Service.
“Concerned that the demoralizing effects of these allegations, given increasing evidence of susceptibility of some officers and men compromising the security of custodial facilities, might worsen violations of these facilities and current security challenges in the country;
“Also concerned that the appalling state of custodial facilities and general welfare of inmates, post-NCS Act, is worrisome and requires immediate attention;
“Resolves to mandate the Committee on Reformatory Institutions to investigate these allegations and report to the House within twelve weeks for further legislative action.”