President Muhammadu Buhari has changed the name of the Nigeria Prisons Service to Nigerian Correctional Service, after signing  the  Nigerian Correctional Service Act 2019 into law.

The Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters (Senate), Senator Ita Enang,  said  this in Abuja on Wednesday.

He said, “This Act repeals the Prisons Act and changes the name from Nigeria Prisons Service to Nigerian Correctional Service, otherwise known as ‘the Correctional Service.’”

The bill was passed by the 8th National Assembly, but the signing came over two months after the tenure of the Assembly expired.

The Act is subdivided into “Custodial Service” and “Non-custodial Service.”

Under custodial service, the law provides that while prisoners serve their jail terms, the emphasis is more on correctional service tailored towards readmitting them to  society upon the completion of their  jail sentences.

A key provision of the bill under custodial service is in Section 12 (2) (c), where a condemned prisoner on death row can have their  sentence reduced to life imprisonment after 10  years without being executed.

The law states “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”.

In addition,  “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”.

Other provisions of custodial service as itemised by Enang include taking into “custody and take control of persons legally interned in safe, secure and humane conditions.

“Conveying remand persons to and fro courts in motorised formations.

“Conducting risk and needs assessment aimed at developing appropriate correctional treatment methods for reformation, rehabilitation and reintegration.

“Implementing reformation and rehabilitation programmes to enhance the reintegration of inmates  into  society.

“Empowering inmates through the deployment of educational and vocational skills training programmes, and facilitating incentives and income generation through Custodial Centres, farms and industries.”

Enang added, “The essence of the Act is to ensure there is enough funding for the service that will take care of the welfare of the inmates and workers. So any alleged corrupt practices in terms of ration will be eliminated.

“The Act also provides that the service retains a percentage of what they generate in addition to budgetary provisions to work with, so that corrupt practices will be eliminated.

“The question of overcrowding has been addressed by the Act. The correctional service officer is to notify the authorities in the state or  at the Federal Capital Territory, the attorney general, the chief judge of the state, that there is overcrowding in the prison and they are  not to take in any other inmate.”

The President also signed into law the Federal Universities of Agriculture (Amendment No.2) Bill 2019.

“This Act amends the Federal Universities of Agriculture Act, Cap. F22, Law of the Federation of Nigeria to change the name of the Federal University of Agriculture Makurdi in Benue State to Joseph Sarwuan Tarka University, Makurdi,” the presidential aide   said.