The Prisoners Rehabilitation and Welfare Action (PRAWA) and the Nigerian Prisons Service (NPS) have said moving the service from the exclusive list to concurrent list will not solve the problem of congestion and other associated issues with the service.
The All Progressives Congress (APC) committee on restructuring led by Kaduna State governor, Mallam Nasir el-rufai had among other things called for the movement of prisons from the exclusive to the concurrent list believing that such arrangement will “make more prisons available and reduce the burden on the federal government.”
But addressing a Press conference on Monday in Abuja, PRAWA Executive Director Dr Uju Agomoh and spokesman of the Nigerian Prisons Service, Francis Enobore, said decentralisation of prison administration would not yield the desired results without leadership commitment.
The duo demanded for a comprehensive reforms that will place the service on the path of progress.
To this extent, PRAWA and NPS will be presenting on Febury 1st, 2018, the 2017 official prisons survey reports in Abuja to stakeholders in the security and justice sectors.
For PRAWA, the challenges facing prisons was not that of decentralisation, but lack of a comprehensive prisons reform mechanism.
She said, “the position of PRAWA on this issue is that prison reform should be comprehensive. From the communities, local and state governments, and different sectors, attempts should be made to ensure that the desired reforms are generated.
“You can have prisons run by states, but without the fundamental philosophical shift in terms of what our prisons should be, whether they are suppose to be punitive or reformative, we will still have a problem.
“So, we are asking for a shift in terms of the mindset that even if the prisons are run by the central government as it is today, that should not stop state governments, communities and local governments from engaging and providing support.”
She urged the federal government that attention should also be given to “lack of effective coordination among the various agencies in the justice delivery system.”
According to her, these positions are part of the recommendations of the 2017 official prison survey reports to be presented by PRAWA and NPS to stakeholders on Thursday in Abuja.
On his part, the NPS spokesman said prison development was a matter of leadership commitment, and not necessarily a shift in responsibility among tiers of government.
“It is a question of perception and leadership. I have mentioned a number of improvements that the NPS has recorded under the current administration.
“Before now, the situation was horrible, but within a short period of time we have seen tremendous government intervention, we have seen increased advocacy, we have seen stakeholders’ interests coming up to do what they should do ordinarily to get things right.
“Within the period we were having serious challenges and now that things are beginning to pick up, prison service has not shifted from the Exclusive List to the Concurrent List. So, it is a question of perception of what you know the prison to be, what it is established to accomplish.
“If we get that right, there is that leadership commitment to get things right, I don’t think placement should be an issue,” Enobore said.