Reps Panel Pushes Trust Fund for Correctional Services

The House of Representatives Committee on Reformatory Institutions is advocating for legislation aimed at establishing a trust fund to oversee correctional services nationwide.

Chairman Hon Chinedu Ogah conveyed this during an interaction with reporters at the National Assembly in Abuja on Tuesday, May 14. He emphasized that the trust fund would require all three tiers of government to allocate a statutory amount from their budgets for this initiative.

Ogah urged state governors to take greater responsibility in establishing correctional facilities, given the shift of this responsibility to the concurrent list. He believes such action would alleviate congestion in correctional centers now that it falls under the concurrent list.

He noted: “I wrote to all the governors of the 36 states, including the Attorney General of the Federation, outlining this line of the constitution that is not being implemented by the states.”

“But most of these governors have neglected this part of the law. They have defaulted on obeying the law of the land, the amended 1999 Constitution. And this Act is the 2019 Act.”

“This is a breach of the constitution. And some NGOs have approached me about taking most of them to court for breaching this constitution. But we will continue to appeal to them to implement what the constitution says.”

He said a situation where undue pressure was mounted on the federal government was unacceptable.

He stressed: “Everybody always puts pressure on the Federal Government, leaving a particular work that is supposed to be done by then.”

He said that 90 percent of the inmates in all the correctional services were state offenders, saying only 10 percent were from the federal government.

“It is the federal government that bankrolls the feeding, renovation, rehabilitation, training, and reintegration of these offenders into society. Why should it be so? he queried.”

He said that none of the state governments had been able to put together a budget to establish a correctional centre, adding that it was only Ebonyi State that had passed a law aligning with it.

“It is only Ebonyi who has started building a correction service. Why can’t other states follow suit?” he asked.”

“Most of the correctional services today are in the market, like the ones we visited in Suleja, Enugu, Taraba, and so many other places.”