by Usman Alabi
A bill for the reform of the Nigerian prisons has passed second reading at the floor of the Nigerian Senate on Wednesday.
The bill was sponsored by Sen. Oluremi Tinubu, Sen. Shaba Lafiagi (Kwara North) and Sen. Babajide Omoworare (Osun East).
The Bill according to Sen. Tinubu sought to provide for mothers and baby unit for the care of female prisoners who are nursing mothers. She further stated that the bill should provide solutions for prison authority to provide special accommodation to meet prenatal and postnatal needs of pregnant women, and designated facility with qualified staffs, where infant can be when not in the care of their mothers.
Sen. Shaba said the prison institution in Nigeria had refused to fashion out even in the face of the modern trend, he claimed that the institution is a relic of colonialism which has refused to change. He said the only change ever witnessed is with their uniform which was formerly white but now blue.
According to Shaba, the most important aspect of the bill is the correctness of it, he claimed that even within the prisons, all the facilities from the cell, workshop remain as they were built during the colonial era.
The deputy Senate President on his part said restructuring the prisons would entail total overhaul of the attendant problems of the prison system
“I have had cause to visit the Robin Island Prison in South Africa where Nelson Mandela spent part of his life and that prison is no longer in use, but that prison is better than almost all the prisons we have in Nigeria today” he said
He said the Senate through its Committee on Prison is looking at withdrawing it from the exclusive list to the concurrent list, so that the states can build prisons, since most people are state offenders.
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