…Mrakpor Advocates Community Service For Minor Offences
By: Aruoriwo Ivovi
The Delta State Command of the Nigerian Correctional Service has announced the lifting of embargo earlier put in admitting new inmates into its correctional facilities across the state due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Controller of Corrections, Delta State Command, Nigerian Correctional Service, Mr. Ovie Friday Esezobor announced the lifting of the embargo at the office of the Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice during a courtesy visit on the A-G.
Mr. Esezobor who was led by the Solicitor-General/Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Justice, Mr. Daniel Momah and other members of the State Correctional Service Committee for the establishment of Temporary Isolation Centres whose membership was drawn from the Police, the DSS, the Judiciary and the Ministry of Justice disclosed that admission of new inmates into designated Isolation Centres located at Ogwashi-Uku, Sapele and Agbor custodial centres will commence with effect from Tuesday, 25th August, 2020.
He said inmates admitted into the selected centres for the purpose of isolation for a period of 14 days at the end of which they must undergo the COVID-19 compulsory testing before they will be admitted into any of its custodian facility across the state.
The Controller, thanked the State Governor, Senator Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa for his magnanimity in approving the release of funds for the emergency renovation of the three isolation centres and provision of beddings as well as other COVID-19 prevention items.
He also paid glowing tributes to the Chief Judge of the State, Justice Marshal Umukoro and the State Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr. Peter Mrakpor for their respective roles in ensuring that the situation was brought under control.
The Nigerian Correctional Service Committee for the establishment of Temporary Isolation Centres was set up sequel to the embargo placed on admission of inmates into custodial centres across the 36 States of the Federation including the F.C.T as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Following the embargo, the Police and DSS cells which became emergency remand cells were overstretched and became overcrowded. The Police and the DSS cried to the Chief Judge of the State for intervention which led to the setting up of the Committee with a mandate to appraise the possibility of establishing temporary isolation centres to keep inmates pending when the embargo was lifted.
Meanwhile, the State Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr. Peter Mrakpor has thrown his weight behind the clamour for community service sentencing as one of the panacea for the decongestion of prison facilities in the country.
While acknowledging the enormous challenges faced by the erstwhile Prison Service now known as the Nigerian Correctional Service, the Delta State Attorney-General stated that the state government was mindful and circumspect in releasing inmates back to society in total respect to public opinion even as he decried the attitude and unwillingness of some prosecution witnesses in coming forward to give evidence in court.
He disclosed that as part of measures to shorten trial period and decongest prison facilities, the Ministry will continue to carryout review of case files and canvassed for plea bargain and non-custodian sentencing for minor offences.