The House of Representative Committee on Reformatory Institutions on Friday called for declaration of State of Emergency on the Nigerian Correctional Service to enable it achieve its aim.
While addressing newsmen in Abuja, the Chairman of the Committee, Hon. Lazarus Ogbee said that there was need to address the incessant jail breaks in the country.
“What is even more astonishing is the simplicity and the brazenness with which jailbreaks occur, mostly engineered by armed men,” he said.
The lawmaker said that the most recent jailbreak in Kogi was caused by flooding at the correctional facility in Koton-Karfe.
He said that the Koton Karfe jailbreak resulted in over 200 inmates escaping from the facility, though a number of them were rearrested and posted to other custodial centres in the state.
Ogbee said that the nature of the recent jailbreak was the first of its kind in Nigeria and that it was embarrassing to say the least.
“The Committee on Reformatory Institutions with oversight jurisdiction over the NCS is deeply concerned with these occurrences particularly in view of the current state of security in the nation.
“We, therefore, resolved that a State of Emergency be declared on the subsector to enable in-depth restructuring as outlined in the National Correctional Act, 2019 pursuant to UN standard minimum rules for the treatment of prisoners and international Human Rights standards governing the treatment of prisoners,” he said.
The chairman said that the issue of appropriate funding for the NCS, particularly, with its new status cannot be overemphasised.
He said that the capital budget which captured structural elements of the service and its formations must be increased to effectively accommodate its peculiarities.
According to Ogbee, the NCS as a crucial part of the country’s security apparatus requires deep reforms.
The lawmaker noted that since security was fundamental responsibility of government, no amount was too much for it.
He said that it was factual that over 70 per cent of inmates were on awaiting trial list, a situation he described as appalling, unacceptable and required immediate redress from concerned authority.
Ogbee said that the Nigerian Justice System must be overhauled for optimal performance of the NCS and its formations.
The legislator said security was core objective of the 9th National Assembly and so the committee was poised to engage all legislative instruments and tools to achieve its mandate.
The chairman said that the mandate centered on Reformation, Rehabilitation and Reintegration.
He added: “We cannot be engaged in rhetoric and play politics with jailbreak issues, because the impact if not immediately resolved has the capacity to escalate current insecurity in the country.
“I will like to use this opportunity to request all stakeholders within and outside the country to collaborate on this matter to ensure correctional facilities across Nigeria are functional and operated in line with global best practices.”