The Nigerian Senate has decried the situation in Nigeria’s major Prisons, describing it as appalling.
It pointed out that the prisons needed improvement, something that a bill for an Act to repeal and re-enact the Prison Act may be addressing at the completion of the process.
The bill, which was brought before the Senate for its second reading on Wednesday, was sponsored by Senator Shaba Lafiagi. He also led the debate on the bill.
Another Senator, Jide Omoworare, commenting on the bill, said: “Prisoners come home even worst. We need to redirect appropriations already made and rehabilitate our prisons”.
Training Ground For Criminals
The condition of most of the prisons do not provide for nursing mothers that are still serving their jail terms and Senator Oluremi Tinubu, expressed displeasure with the situation.
She said: “There is need for a Crèche, Nursery and a separate facility to improve conditions of Nursing Mothers and Children in Prison”.
On his part, Senator Shehu Sani, told the senate that “the only thing that has changed in our Prisons in recent times is the uniform of inmates”.
An ex-convict, Mr Kayode Williams, who advocates rehabilitation or prisoners and the nation’s prisons had in 2014 referred to the nation’s prisons as a training ground for hardened criminals and Senator Gbenga Ashafa corroborated that claim when he stressed that he was particular about the improvement and attitudinal change of inmates.
Another lawmaker, Senator Utazi Chukwuka, narrated the deplorable state of Enugu Prisons which he said brought tears to his eyes.
For Senator Musa Kwankwaso, modern prisons should be built to accommodate prisoners. He also stressed that there were so many challenges with the operators too.
After most of the Senators had contributed, the Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, who presided over the plenary, highlighted that the lawmakers were working towards moving Prisons from Exclusive list to Concurrent list. Items in the exclusive list are solely handled by the Federal government.
He appreciated the sponsors of the Prison Bill, pointing out that it will help improve conditions of Prisoners in Nigeria.
After the deliberations, Prison Bills numbered, five, six and seven were read and passed for Second Reading.
The Deputy Senate President then referred the bill to the Senate’s Committee on Interior and Judiciary to report back in four weeks.
Most prisons in Nigeria are conjected, having more suspects in custody than the already convicted persons.
The senate took a deep look at the Consumer Protection Bill, Hydro-electric Power Bill, and Prison Bill among others.
This took place on Wednesday at a plenary session in which the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, read out the letter sent by President Buhari, requesting approval of the Federal Government’s 2016-2018 borrowing plan.
This according to the letter, is to cover all sectors which include agriculture, health, water, employment creation, poverty eradication among others, across the country.
“Considering the huge infrastructural deficit currently being experienced in the country and the enormous financial resources required to fill the gap in the face of dwindling resources and the inability of our annual budget to bridge the infrastructure deficit, it has become necessary to resort to prudent external borrowing to bridge the financial gap which will largely be applied to key infrastructure projects namely power, railway and road project amongst others,” the letter read.
As the various bills were being considered, Senator Gbenga Ashafa in support of the Prison Bill said that he is particular about the improvement and attitudinal change of inmates.
While Senator Utazi Chukwuka explained the deplorable state of Enugu Prisons, Senator Musa Kwankwaso also affirmed that modern prisons should be built to accommodate prisoners, identifying that there are so many challenges with the operators too.
Mr. Ekweremadu expressed appreciation to the sponsors of the Prison Bill adding that it would help improve conditions of prisoners in Nigeria.
The sitting was adjourned to Thursday 27th October, 2016 when further deliberations into the President’s letter will continue.
The Minister of Budget and National Planning in Nigeria, Senator Udo Udoma, says the falling crude oil prices will in no way affect the nation’s 2016 budget submitted with an oil benchmark of $38 per barrel.
Senator Udoma spoke on Monday at a meeting with members of the National Assembly Committee on Budget and Planning.
He told the lawmakers that there was a plan to cushion all shortfalls that may arise as a result of the drop in oil prices.
According to him, part of the plans would include concession of airports and re-introduction of toll gates on the nation’s highways.
“Now we are in the beginning of February and the price that we projected is for the whole of 2016 and not a January price. So it is too early to say whether it will be realised or not.
“We did say that we will have a midterm review of the budget. So we already have built-in mechanisms to deal with situation that arises that is different from our projections,” he told the lawmakers.
In the last few months, issues surrounding the implementation of the 2016 budget has been a public debate. The nation’s mainstay of revenue is crude oil sales.
Its practicability is more worrisome for most Nigerians, as the Federal Government pegged the 2016 oil benchmark at $38 dollars per barrel.
Besides assuring Nigerians that this year’s budget will be a success, the Minister of State for National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, said Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDA) would go through a performance test quarterly.
“We do intend to have a robust monitoring and evaluation framework. We will get to a point when we are able to have performance forecast for each MDA so that we are tracking key performance indicator for every MDA.,” Mrs Ahmed stated.
The Chairman of the Senate Committee on Budget and Planning, Senator Musa Kwankwaso, called for a synergy between the Ministry and the National Assembly to make the nation’s budgeting system effective.