1 The Nigerian Correctional Service (NCoS) has inaugurated the National parole and mental health review boards to decongest custodial centres nationwide and reduce administrative costs.
2 The Controller General, NCoS, Mr Haliru Nababa inaugurated the boards on Thursday in Abuja.
3 The CG said that parole and mental health were critical to the reforms of the service and efficient service delivery.
4 Nababa said that the inauguration underscored the zeal and commitment of the Service to go into non-custodial component of its operation, as provided under the NCoS Act, 2019.
“The non-custodial component was perhaps the most phenomenal breakthrough of the NCoS Act, 2019,” he said, adding that parole was key to the NCoS’ reform, rehabilitation and reintegration options.
5 “It also enhances significantly, the decongestion of custodial centres.
6 “Mental Health on the other hand, is one of the essential components of the Health Care services of the Correctional Service.
7 “This has over the years become an area of interest for the Service and indeed the public, for obvious reasons.
8 “This will include, the vulnerability of those incarcerated to mental health issues and also its effect on the safety and serenity of a Custodial Centre,” he said.
9 Nababa said that the service would put the necessary machinery in place to deliver on its renewed mandate.
10 He urged members of the two boards to approach their assignments with seriousness and execute the mandate diligently.
11 The Executive Director, Prisoners Rehabilitation and Welfare Action (PRAWA), Dr Uju Agomoh said Section 24 of the NCoS Act mandated the CG to set up the review boards.
12 Agomoh said that every state of the federation, including the FCT now has a state mental health review board which was been inaugurated.
13 She said that the mental health review board was made up of Psychiatrists, Psychologists, clinical and social workers, among others.
14 “So what is happening here and now is that they ensure the issue of assessment of mental state of every inmate.
15 “They also take adequate response both from within and outside the service which becomes something helpful and useful.
16 “So what we expect is expert services and support for the correctional service by this board.
17 “And definitely, that will have impact on the society in terms of how those who are mentally ill are treated in the society,” Agomoh said.
18 In his remarks, the Board chairman, retired Justice Suleiman Galadima expressed appreciation to the CG for considering them worthy of the assignment.
19 He assured the commitment of the board members to effectively carry out their mandate.
20 The News Agency of Nigeria reports that parole is a conscious effort of government to release prisoners temporarily or permanently before the expiry of their sentence.
21 PRAWA and the British Council through the Rule of Law and Anti-Corruption (ROLAC) programme supported the inauguration of the parole and mental health review boards.
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