*gives reprieve to death-row inmates
*as Agric varsity, Makurdi becomes JS Tarka University
By Chesa Chesa
President Muhammadu Buhari has signed into law two bills passed by the 8th National Assembly, and they have now become the Nigerian Correctional Service Act, 2019; and Federal Universities of Agriculture (Amendment No.2) Act, 2019.
Buhari’s Senior Special Assistant on National Assembly Matters (Senate), Ita Enang, who announced this to State House correspondents on Wednesday in Abuja, said the President received the Bills on July 20, 2019, and assented to them within the constitutional 30-day limit.
He was however, less forthcoming on whether the Clerk of the National Assembly could still forward to the President bills passed by an elapsed National Assembly, as the two bills belonged to the 8th Assembly that was dissolved on June 8, 2019.
The presidential aide only insisted that “when a bill is passed it goes through a process National Assembly management, particularly the legal department of the office of the Clerk to National Assembly. The time of Mr. President begins to run from the date that the bills are transmitted to him.
“The time doesn’t begin to run from the dates the bills were passed. It is 30 days from the date when the bill was transmitted to him. This bill was transmitted to him on July 20th and was assented to in August, so Mr. President signed within the 30 days period.
“After bills are passed by the legislature, there are still other processes of assembling which the Clerk of the Assembly undertakes before he forwards to us (Presidency).
The Correctional Service Act repealed the Prisons Acts and changes the name from Nigeria Prisons Service to Nigerian Correctional Service, otherwise known as “the Correctional Service.”
Enang explained that according to the Act, there are two main faculties of the Correctional Service, namely: Custodial Service; and Non-custodial Service
The Custodial Service is to: (a) custody and take control of persons legally interned in safe, secure and humane conditions. (b) Conveying remand persons to and from courts in motorized formations; (c) Identifying the existence and causes of anti-social behaviours of inmates (d) Conducting risk and needs assessment aimed at developing appropriate correctional treatment methods for reformation, rehabilitation and reintegration;
(e) Implementing reformation and rehabilitation programmes to enhance the reintegration of inmates back into the society; (f) Initiating behavior modification in inmates through the provision of medical, psychological, spiritual and counseling services for all offenders including violent extremists;
(g) empowering inmates through the deployment of educational and vocational skills training programmes, and facilitating incentives and income generation through Custodial Centres, farms and industries; (h) Administering borstal and related institutions; (I) Providing support to facilitate the speedy disposal of cases of persons awaiting trial.
Enang stated further that the Act provides in Section 12 (2) (c): “that where an inmate sentenced to death has exhausted all legal procedures for appeal and a period of 10 years has elapsed without execution of the sentence, the Chief Judge may commute the sentence of death to life imprisonment.
“And Section 12 (8) empowers the state Controller of the Service to reject more intakes of inmates where it is apparent that the correctional centre in question is filled to capacity.”
On the other hand, the non-custodial faculty of the Correctional Service is responsible for the administration of non-custodial measures, namely: Community Service, probation, parole, restorative justice measures and such other measures as a court of competent jurisdiction may order.
“Restorative Justice measure approved in the Act include victim-offender mediation, family group conferencing, community mediation and other conciliatory measures as may be deemed necessary pre-trial, trial during imprisonment or even post- imprisonment stages”, he added.
Enang also explained that for inmates who undergo vocational training or skills acquired, the law states that the money made from their ventures while in custody will be divided into three: the person who produces will take one third, the Correction Service will take one third and the last one third will go to Consolidated Revenue Fund of the Federation.
Meanwhile, the Federal Universities of Agriculture (Amendment No.2) Act, 2019 changes the name of the Federal University of Agriculture, Makurdi in Benue State to Joseph Sarwuan Tarka University, Makurdi.
Tarka, who died on 30 March 1980, was a renown politician from Benue State and a former Minister for Transport and later, Communications under General Yakubu Gowon in the 1960s and 1970s.