Improving the Feeding of Prison Inmates
The United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the treatment of prisoners otherwise known as the Nelson Mandela Rules (Rule 22), states that, “Every prisoner shall be provided by the prison administration at the usual hours with food of nutritional value adequate for health and strength of wholesome quality and well prepared and served”
To what extend is this assertion true of the Nigerian Prisons Service? On Thursday January 25, 2018 concern was raised by the Senate Committee on Interior on poor budgetary provision for feeding of prisoners. Chukwuka Utazi, a member of the Committee expressed his concern over the inadequate budgetary allocation for people in prisons custody. In his words, “I feel that we are getting it wrong. The poor feeding of the prisoner is part of the problem we are having in the country, you send people to prison for reformation, yet they come out more hardened and become a menace to the society”.
The Senate Committee on Interior is proposing for a review in budgetary allocation for prisoners’ feeding from 450 per prisoner per day to 1,500 per prisoner per day. This proposal is a good step in the right direction to place the Nigerian prisons in a better position as stipulated in the laws for the incarceration of prisoners.Knowing fully well of the increase in price of food and attendance need of meeting the global standard. Also, as part of the need to address long standing problem of Nigerian Prisons Service (NPS).
The Controller General of Prisons (CGP), Ja’afaru Ahmed on assumption of duty about two years ago said that the Nigerian Prisons Service was confronted challenges among which is the need to ensure wholesome feeding of prisoners in custody.
Recall in his inaugural speech, he stated that his administration is determine to improved on feeding of the inmates. No doubt, a ration monitoring team was set up under the supervision of an Assistant Controller General of Prisons. The committee was mandated to visit any prison unannounced and assess the wholesome feeding of inmates.
To show more concern, the CGP in a memo to Federal Executive Council got the approval for the fund to purchase 22 tractors with its accompanied implements for the various farms farm centres in the country. He stated that the acquisition of the new tractors is to boost agriculture activities in the various prison farm centres for both commercial and feeding of prisoners.
According to the prisons boss, a pilot scheme has commenced last year (2017) with selection of three farm centres in Kaduna, Plateau and Edo. He said, “Kujama farm centre in Kaduna state yielded success in large harvest on maize and fish production, Lakushi in Plateau state recorded bumper harvest on rice production and Ozalla Farm Centre in Edo state yielded success on palm oil and animals production”.
Agriculture is one of the core mandate of Nigerian Prisons Service through which inmates acquires skills on food production and animals husbandry.
The Controller General further stressed that Nigerian Prisons Service is committed to leaving no one in doubt of its commitments to ensuring that the prisoners under it’s care not only feed adequately but also benefitted from training programmes line up in agriculture and other areas as part of the mandate establishing prisons in the country.
The proposed review of budgetary allocation on inmates’ meal from N450 to 1,500 per prisoner per day by the Senate Committee is certainly coming at better time. It is therefore believed that the increament will be done without delay, judging by the rising cost of food stuff in the market now.
Today world over, imprisonment has completely shifted focus from punitive to correction. Nigeria Prisons is not an exception. The Federal Government has indeed shown more commitment in infrastructural upgrade of prisons across the country, provision of utility vehicles and other welfare needs of inmates, feeding however remained a vital ingredient to achieving the goal of safe and reformed prisoners in custody. N500 per meal for every prisoner proposed by the Senator is quite reasonable. It should therefore be supported by all.
Njuwa wrote from Abuja.
Chief Judge Tasks Judiciary on Speedy Trial of Prison Inmates
The Chief Judge of Nasarawa State, Justice Suleiman Umaru Dikko, has tasked Judges and Prosecutors to speed up cases before them in order to decongest Prisons in the State.
The State number one Judge made the assertion while on first quarter Statewide Prison visit; adding that Judges of the lower courts will soon be given the power for summary trial in order for them to dispose of minor cases within the stipulated laws, saying this will help in no small measure at Prison decongestion.
The CJ during the visit, released 20 inmates across Prison formations in the State. In his remarks to the freed inmates, Justice Umaru Dikko, said ‘go and sin no more’.
The State Controller of Prisons Patrick C. Dalyop, appreciated the CJ for regularly embarking on Prison visit as this gesture keeps putting smile on faces of the inmates.
Stephen A. Abene(CPRO)