The Chief Judge of Lagos State, Justice Kazeem Alogba, Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr. Moyosore Onigbanjo (SAN) as well as the Controller-General, Nigeria Correctional Service (NCS), Mr. Ja’Afaru Ahmed, are among the dignitaries expected to speak on how to break the vicious wheel of crime at a conference organized by a Nongovernmental Organization (NGO), Prison Fellowship Nigeria (PFN).
Addressing the media on the event scheduled for next week Thursday and Friday, Executive Director of PFN, Mr. Benson Iwuagwu, said the Conference, with the theme, “Corrections, Faith-Based Therapies and Communities of Support,” seeks to precipitate social attitudinal change towards those who are involved in or affected by crime.
He added that the virtual conference will enlighten, educate, inform, sensitize and mobilize public and private sentiments fora collective effort, participation, patronage and support in the effort to reform, rehabilitate and reintegrate offenders. He further said it will also explore ways to promote communal harmony for the common good, peace, security and improved socio-economic productivity.
“Crime is a multi-causal, disruptive and destructive social phenomenon which requires collaborative and synergized intervention to solve. As a psycho- social disease, its treatment must be purposeful, personalized and measured. A kneejerk and adhoc approach is doomed to fail.
“In order to foster a holistic approach to the problem of crime, Prison Fellowship Nigeria is organizing the National Criminal Justice and Corrections Conference which will bring together various stakeholders to deliberate and propose measures that will enable our communities tackle rising crime wave”, he said.
Iwuagwu also used the the occasion to call on the Federal Government to ensure the full implementation of the Nigerian Correctional Service Act, 2019 (NCSA 2019). He said: “We expect that the government will power the Act, since it is not the accumulation of seed yam that ensures bountiful harvest. Other critical investments in infrastructure and human capital are crucial. The NCSA 2019 has many noble provisions that must be complemented with requisite infrastructure.
There should be dedicated rehabilitation and vocational centers for non-custodial treatments. “A fundamental issue that confronts us today is the fate and well-being of former custodial inmates upon discharge.
When inmates are released from custody, whether by reason of completion of sentence, clemency or other legal recourse, they face obstacles and impediments that are counterproductive to the values and objects of reformation. This is particularly with respect to stigmatization and discrimination.
“Ostracization and discrimination against ex-custodial inmates is harmful and destructive. Legislations that discriminate against those who have had criminal convictions must be repealed. Even our laws frown at double jeopardy. By discriminating against ex-offenders and ostracizing them, we are simply biting our nose to spite our face and fueling the vicious crime shuttle.
“We must make deliberate efforts to assist the 3751 exoffenders released during the pandemic to reintegrate. If we do not, we will force them back to their old criminal soul mates, crime and prison.
“Let us quit discrimination and ostracizing ex-offenders. Let us rather lend them a hand for a new beginning, be an encouragement. Let us promote the social culture of care and share.”