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Buhari Renames UniAgric Makurdi After Joseph Sarwuan Tarka

  • Nigerian Prisons sertvice Now Correctional Service  

By Mathew Dadiya, Abuja

President Muhammadu Buhari has signed into law a bill that changes the name of Nigeria Prison Service to Nigerian Correctional Service (NCS), which is viewed as part of his administration’s effort at reforming the prison system in the country. 

The signing of the law came two months after the expiration of the 9th National Assembly, thereby raising concerns as to the legality of the law and if the clerk of the national assembly has such right to withhold bills and transmit them to the president months after the end of an assembly.

Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly (Senate Matter), Senator Ita Enang said this on Wednesday, while speaking to State House Correspondents at the Aso Rock Villa, Abuja.

According to him, this Act repeals the Prisons Acts and changes the name from Nigeria Prisons Service to Nigerian Correctional Service, otherwise known as “the Correctional Service.” 

There Correctional Service is made up of two main faculties: Custodial Service and Non-custodial Service. 

He explained that the Custodial Service is to take custody and control of persons legally interned in safe, secure and humane conditions; conveying remand persons to and from courts in motorized formations; identifying the existence and causes of anti-social behaviours of inmates; conducting risk and needs assessment aimed at developing appropriate correctional treatment methods for reformation, rehabilitation and reintegration.

Others include: Implementing reformation and rehabilitation programmes to enhance the reintegration of inmates back into society; initiating behavior modification in inmates through the provision of medical, psychological, spiritual and counseling services for all offenders including violent extremists; empowering inmates through the deployment of educational and vocational skills training programmes, and facilitating incentives and income generation through Custodial Centres, farms and industries; administering borstal and related institutions; Providing support to facilitate the speedy disposal of cases of persons awaiting trial, and It further provides in Section 12 (2) (c).

“that where an inmate sentenced to death has exhausted all legal procedures for appeal and a period of 10 years has elapsed without execution of the sentence, the Chief Judge may commute the sentence of death to life imprisonment. And Section 12 (8) empowers the state Controller of the Service to reject more intakes of inmates where it is apparent that the correctional centre in question is filled to capacity. 

He further explained that ”the non-custodial faculty of the Correctional Service is responsible for the administration of non-custodial measures, namely: Community Service, probation, parole, restorative justice measures and such other measures as a court of competent jurisdiction may order.

”Restorative Justice measure approved in the Act include victim-offender mediation, family group conferencing, community mediation and other conciliatory measures as may be deemed necessary pre-trial, trial during imprisonment or even post- imprisonment stages.”

Also, the President signed into law Federal Universities of Agriculture (Amendment No.2) Act, 2019, changing the name of the Federal University of Agriculture Makurdi in Benue State to Joseph Sarwuan Tarka University, Makurdi. 

The House of Representatives had in 2016 passed a bill seeking the renaming of the university to J.S Tarka.

Joseph Sarwuan Tarka (1932-1980) was a Nigerian politician from Benue State and a former Minister for Transport and later Communications under the administration of Yakubu Gowon.

He was one of the founding members of the United Middle Belt Congress, a political organization dedicated to advocating autonomy for the country’s Middle Belt.

Tarka was a battle scared politician who underwent several political battles and was jailed on many occasions for his political actvisim as the main opposition leader in the Northern Region.

A colourful and skilled politician with a rare gift of oration, he was reputed for the energetic political campaigns he conducted. He was sometimes called the ‘smiling snake’ for the big smiles he had while speaking.

He was a founding figure of the defunct National Party of Nigeria(NPN) and was a presidential aspirant of the party but lost the ticket to Alhaji Shehu Aliyu Usman Shagari, who eventually got elected President in 1979.

He was then elected Senator in the second republic and became Chairman of the Senate Committee on Public Accounts until he died in 1980, while serving in the National Assembly.

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