HURILAWS Media Parley on Police Trust Fund

HURILAWS in conjunction with NOPRIN Foundation held a Media Parley on  “Police Trust Fund – advocating the establishment of Trust Fund for Nigeria Correctional Service“. July 22, 2021.

The Human Rights Law Service (HURILAWS) has made a case for the establishment of a Trust Fund for the Nigerian Correctional Service (NCoS) just like the Nigeria Police Trust Fund for the Nigeria Police Force so as to enable it deliver on its mandates.

Speaking at a media parley organized by HURILAWS in partnership with NOPRIN and supported by MISEREOR in Lagos on Thursday, the Programs Manager, HURILAWS, Collins Okeke observed that the Correctional Services Act 2019 had established the Nigerian Non-Custodial Service which was responsible for the administration of non-custodial measures including community service, probation, parole, restorative justice measures.

According to him, this development suggested a paradigm shift from punitive or retributive justice simpliciter to restorative justice adding that laudable as this was, it needed well-equipped non-custodial officers, community service centers among others to administer it to positively impact the state criminal justice system.

He, however, regretted that this had not been put in place and where they exist, they have limited capacity.

“No special fund has been made available to ensure effective implementation of this important part of the law and so we propose like for the police, a Trust Fund for the Nigerian Correctional Service”, he said.

Okeke went on to submit that an effective criminal justice system was one of the key pillars upon which the rule of law was built because it served as a functional mechanism to redress grievances and bring violators of social norms to justice saying that how well a country managed its criminal justice system affects its overall performance on the governance index.

“Unfortunately, the Nigerian criminal justice system is fundamentally flawed and the defects manifest at different stages of the criminal justice process which is why HURILAWS alongside other civil society groups have been involved in advocacy for the passage of the Administration of criminal justice law.

“Having achieved substantial passage of the laws (ACJA/ACJL has been passed in the FCT and more than 25 states in Nigeria), we have taken the next logical task of working with our partners to increase awareness on provisions of the ACJA/ACJL including other legislation like the Anti-Torture Act 2017, the Nigerian Correctional Services Act 2019, and Police Force Order 237 amongst others. We are also advocating adequate funding for criminal justice agencies like the courts, the police and the correctional service”, he stated.

He pointed out that HURILAWS was especially excited about the Police Trust Fund Act 2019 noting that the Trust Fund was designed to among other things, provide funds for the training and retraining of personnel of the Nigeria Police Force (NPF), provide them with state-of-the-art security equipment, to improve the general welfare of the personnel of the NPF and enhance their preparedness.

Disclosing that the National Assembly had approved a budget of N74 billion for the Trust Fund, the Programs Manager noted, “we will monitor to ensure monies appropriated are disbursed and efficiently deployed.”

While assuring support for all current efforts at criminal justice reforms, he insisted that these reforms must be supported with the required human and material resources.

He said, “If resources are effectively deployed, it will mitigate prison congestion, end the abuse of the remand system, improve the delivery of criminal justice services by the courts, enhance the capacity of law enforcement agents to act responsibly, accountably and professionally, as well as ensure better safeguards for the rights of persons who are processed through the criminal justice system.”

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