Friday 23rd June, 2017
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Governors are not willing to sign death sentences - Comptroller General of Prisons

Governors are not willing to sign death sentences - Comptroller General of Prisons

The Comptroller General of the Nigeria Prisons Service (NPS) Ahmed Ja’afaru, recently spoke with journalists on the achievements recorded by the service. ANGELEEN NKWOCHA, was there for The AUTHORITY.
There seems to be a mis­conception among mem­bers of the public about the operations of the Nigeria Prisons Service (NPS). While some say the agency has not done enough to reform and re­habilitate prison inmates, oth­ers think that the institution is a drain on public funds. Even, some others hold uncharitable opinions about the service.
But the Comptroller General of Prisons, Ahmed Ja’afaru, who spoke to journalists recently through the duo of the Assis­tant Comptroller General of Prisons, Mohammed Badi, and the agency’s spokesman, Francis Enobore, thinks otherwise.
“A lot has been achieved. We are reforming prison inmates; ensuring decongestion of pris­on cells, equipping inmates with new skills, secluding crimi­nals from the rest of the society, providing necessary infrastruc­tural facilities and other logistics for prisoners,” said Ja’afaru.
On what the service is doing to stem the frequent jail- break across the country, the CGP said: “Towards the last quarter of 2016, the service recorded bumpy ride in the area of jail break, but before the end of 2016, we were able to surmount it.
“The service took time to surmount the problem of jail break by pinning down a num­ber of factors that could lead to jail break, such as human factor, infrastructural and logistics ele­ments.
“And regarding the human element, we discovered that a poorly motivated staff will not give his or her very best, and also if you do not apply some measure of discipline, you will also run the risk of not getting the best from your work force.
The management addressed these two key factors in 2016, which culminated in the mass promotion of officers across the board.”
He said that disciplinary ac­tions were taken against some staff whose conduct did not measure up to expectations.
According to him, the Fed­eral Government provided 400 vehicles to the service, adding that the service is currently ex­panding prison cells to ease ac­commodation problem.
He also said that a lot is being done in the area of giving formal education to prison inmates.
“In the education sector, inmates are undergoing em­powerment and rehabilitation. About 30 prisoners are being prepared for university edu­cation, having just completed their Senior Secondary Certifi­cate Examination (SSCE).
“Also we have 35 students in Kuje prisons running different courses and preparing for uni­versity education.
“The National Open Uni­versity of Nigeria (NOUN) , has opened a study centre in Gombe, thus making it a spe­cial centre.
“The Jos prison has graduated 59 inmates. Before now, we had challenges graduating students from secondary to the univer­sity level, but now, NOUN has granted free tuition and schol­arships to every prisoner that has the requisite qualification to enter the university.
“The NPS, therefore, lever­ages on that to expand this win­dow of opportunity to inmates that are qualified.”
The CGP further revealed that the NPS is planning to train prisoners on modern farm­ing techniques - using modern farming equipment. So far, over 14 farm centres have been opened in Benue state, and pro­ceeds from the farms are used to feed the prison inmates.”
He said that staff morale has received a boost following the recent promotion of over 10, 979 workers who had remained in one position for long.
Indeed, every institution has its own challenges, and for the NPS, its major challenge ap­pears to be how to contend with the presence in prison of over 1,640 condemned criminals.
“As you all know when some­one is sentenced to death, he has arrived at his final bus stop. It becomes extremely difficult to advice or calm him down.
‘The problem of condemned prisoners is still a very big chal­lenge to NPS. We have been telling the relevant authorities especially the state chief execu­tives that when someone is con­demned to death after exhaust­ing his appeal to the Supreme Court, the only opportunity he has to escape the death sentence is if the state chief executive commutes his death sentence to a term of imprisonment.
“If this does not happen, the state chief executive should sign the person’s death warrant for him to take his last breath. But most governors are not willing to endorse the death sentences.
“You are not signing their execution, yet you are not com­muting their death sentences to terms of imprisonment so that we can transfer them to a place where they can be remodeled or re- branded.
“So, the condemned prisoners have created a big problem for us, but we keep appealing that governors should do the need­ful so that we’ll be able to really manage these people effectively”.
“Also, we have the problem of stigmatization from mem­bers of the society. Most often, as soon as the person goes into the prison; the person is usu­ally not welcomed back into the society.
“You are indirectly pushing that person back to criminal life, because if he is rejected, there is a group ready to take him into their fold,” said the prison boss.
He explained that those awaiting trial are not entitled to training programmes of NPS because the person is still deemed innocent, and so it is difficult for such a person to adjust since he cannot go to the workshop to learn a skill.
He advised that non-govern­mental organizations (NGO’s should be encouraged to visit prisons to enable them make useful suggestions on how to reform the service.

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