The House of Representatives says it plans to probe the implementation of the N165 billion appropriated for the Nigeria Correctional Service (NCS) over the past two years.
The resolution was passed by the lawmakers sequel to the adoption of a motion by Ndudi Elumelu, the minority leader of the House, who decried the deplorable state of prison inmates, appalling working conditions of NCS officers and the resultant adverse effects on security of custodial facilities, despite the huge budgetary allocations to the service.
Elumelu, in his motion, noted that Nigeria joined most countries in adopting modern correctional alternatives to incarceration or imprisonment, including non–custodial measures with the enactment of the NCS Act 2019.
The minority leader explained that the extant Act was in line with international best practises as it prioritised the welfare of officers of the service, and thus positioned the NCS workforce as the single most important resource available to the correctional system.
He, however, bemoaned that despite the Act and increased budgetary allocations of over N165 billion to the service in the last two years to drive its renewed mandate, the tempo and quality of the service had remained stagnant, adding that the working conditions of staff and inmates’ welfare had deteriorated.
According to Elumelu, the arms squad unit of the service still possess and utilise obsolete and substandard weapons despite over N1 billion budget provision for prison biometrics, arms and ammunition in the 2020 to 2021 capital budget.
“Staff still buy or make their uniform till date regardless of the huge budget allocations provided for this purpose, while provision of uniform for inmates is nonexistent in most custodial centres,” he said.
He further brought to the House’s attention claims of unscrupulous staff promotion, denial of rights and benefits, including hazard and duty tour allowances levelled against the management of the correctional service.
Elumelu warned that the effects of the allegations, given increasing evidence of susceptibility of some officers compromising security of custodial facilities, could worsen violations of facilities and current security challenges in the country.
He noted that this had hindered the NCS’ ability to deter, prevent or respond effectively to both internal and external threats, noting that the state of custodial facilities and general welfare of inmates, post NCS Act, is worrisome and requires immediate attention.
To this end, the House mandated its committee on reformatory institutions to investigate the allegations and report to the House within twelve weeks for further legislative action.