Magnus Eze, Enugu, Femi Folaranmi, Yenagoa and Aidoghie Paulinus, Abuja
Mixed reactions have trailed the the new Nigerian Prisons Service amended bill into law, signed by President Muhammadu Buhari, on Wednesday, which changes the name of the Nigeria Prisons Services to Nigerian Correctional Service.
In the amended law, the Nigerian Correctional Service facilities nationwide would be governed by policies and programmes meant for correction and re-integration of offenders back to the society.
For the Catholic Diocese of Enugu, the Federal Government need to back the amended Nigerian Prisons Law with provision of adequate facilities for reformation of inmates.
Director of Communication in the Diocese, Rev. Fr. Benjamin Achi, said the new name sounded good and nice but the bottomline would be having all the new policies and programmes functional.
“It is not changing nomenclature or name that matters, but doing the needful, which is well known to the government.
“Over the years, the Catholic Church, especially Enugu Catholic Diocese, has drawn the attention of the government to some urgent need and immediate actions needed to be taken to make the correctional facilities better.
“It is a common knowledge that the correctional facilities needed decongestion and expansion.
“The facilities needed urgent installation of some appliance and amenities that will give minimum comfort to the inmates. They should at least live like humans.”
Others who spoke to Daily Sun, yesterday, included the Catholic Archbishop of Jos, Ignatius Kaigama and Chief Mike Ozekhomhe (SAN), Agu Gab Agu and Ezekiel Ugochukwu-Hanks.
Kaigama, who doubles as the Co-adjutor Archbishop of Abuja with over 25 years prison apostolate, said government should go beyond just renaming the prison and give the prison a facelift and ensure prisoners are well looked after so that they could emerge and be integrated to help in contributing their quota to the society.
Ozekhomhe said Buhari’s assent to the bill was the right way to go.
“That is one (good) thing I think that has come from Buhari’s government. It is like saying that every dark sky must have a silver lining because a prison is not really supposed to be a gulag of torment. A prison is supposed to be correctional, a prison is supposed to be reformatory. It is not supposed to harden criminals,” Ozekhomhe said.
He called on the government to take a cue from what obtained in other climes and make Nigerian prisons the ideal correctional home where prisoners are made better citizens.
Agu, professor of Law in Enugu State University of Science and Technology (ESUT), said there was nothing special about change of nomenclature of the Nigeria Prison Service to Correctional Service.
He said the system needed total overhaul not piecemeal approach even as he urged for the complete package to be made public for Nigerians to know what and what were involved.
Agu, however, commended the president for the decision believing that the change of name could also lead to some change of attitude in the operation of the service.
Former president of the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) and Executive Director, “We the People”, Mr. Ken Henshaw, described the name change as another mediocre policy of this administration.