The Rule of Law and Anti-Corruption (RoLAC) Programme has been collaborating with the Nigerian Correctional Service (NCoS) and Prisoners Rehabilitation and Welfare Action (PRAWA) to build capacity to implement the Nigerian Correctional Service Act (NCSA) 2019. The objectives of the NCSA are to ensure compliance with international human rights standards and good correctional practices, and to provide enabling platform for implementation of non-custodial measures. However, paucity of funds, lack of capacity, inadequate knowledge and awareness, and outdated organisational structures, have made it difficult for the NCoS to immediately kick start implementation of the Act.
RoLAC has provided a grant to PRAWA to improve the administration of criminal justice through increased utilization of the provisions on non-custodial measures in the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (2015), the NCSA, and other related laws. Support has been provided for the development and publishing of key training and practice resource materials for the correctional services. Non-custodial forms and reporting templates for supervising non-custodial measures have also been developed.
A total of 3,111 participants have benefited from physical and/or virtual trainings and workshops. Thirty virtual trainings for correctional officers were delivered during the COVID-19 lockdown, including the training of all Deputy Controllers of Corrections (DCCs) in charge of non-custodial measures in all the states, and 384 directing staff (trainers) of the six correctional institutions in Nigeria. Stakeholders outside the correctional service were also engaged through sensitisation workshops, including CSOs, CBOs, FBOs, the media, government agencies, and other stakeholders across the country on the effective implementation of non-custodial measures; and judges and magistrates in the FCT.
This support has led to the establishment of structures for the effective implementation of non-custodial measures within the NoCS, including the establishment of the Directorate of Non-Custodial Measures; the appointment of Deputy Controller General (DCCs) in charge of non-custodial measures, and Assistant Controller General in charge of various non-custodial measures; the appointment of 37 DCCs to oversee implementation of the measures in all the states and the FCT; and the designation of cluster supervisors at the NCoS national headquarters. Further, the enhanced capacity of correctional officers has led to the successful supervision of over 35,000 offenders (with over 21,000 offenders in the FCT during the covid lockdown) on non-custodial sentencing.
At a lessons learned workshop on non-custodial measures hosted by the NCoS Headquarters on 23 March 2022, it was agreed that going forward, further sensitisation workshops for criminal justice institutions was imperative. At the event, RoLAC presented over 8,000 copies of resource materials with the management of the NCoS for future cascading efforts.