UNODC, Germany govt join forces in upgrading Maiduguri Maximum Security custodial centre

by peter usman://

as the federal and state governments, civil society and international development partners continue to work towards putting an end to more than ten years of conflict in north east nigeria, the role of the nigerian correctional service has rarely, if ever, been the focus of attention.

despite its critical role in rehabilitating offenders, including those who perpetuated acts of terrorism, only limited resources have been invested both by government and its partners. and yet, the ultimate objective of imprisonment, namely to protect society against crime and terrorism, can only be achieved if the period of imprisonment is used to ensure that offenders are both able to support themselves and willing to lead a law-abiding life upon release.

this changed in 2020 when the nigerian correctional service, unodc and the german government forged a partnership aimed to enhance the rehabilitation and reintegration facilities and capabilities of maiduguri maximum security correctional centre.

in 2021, phase i of the project “strengthening the capacity of the nigerian correctional service to effectively rehabilitate and reintegrate prisoners held for an (alleged) association with boko haram”was launched. since then prison staff working at the centre have received extensive training on the nelson mandela rules, on dynamic security management as well as on integrating sports into a holistic rehabilitation programme.

in addition, extensive infrastructural improvements have been made in order to enable the centre to provide a far more sophisticated, diverse and eventually effective offer of recreational, vocational and educational services.

the ceremony which was attended by senior representatives of the nigerian correctional service, the borno state government, representatives of the security services and the united nations marked the hand-over of phase i of the infrastructural improvements, including:

improved access to light and water for inmates and staff, through the provision installation of eco-friendly solar energy sources to supplement the current prison electrical system with up to 72 hours of power reserve;

improved access to vocational skill development opportunities by inmates through the transformation of existing facilities into two functional vocational training workshops which will be fully equipped during phase ii;

improved access to education through the refurbishment of the classroom and the provision of standard educational materials; and finally

to improved mental and physical health and well-being of prisoners through the constructions of extensive new sports facilities, including football, volleyball and badminton pitches and the provision of the respective sports equipment.

under its second phase the project will further upgrade the vocational training facilities and workshops as well as renovate the living quarters of staff of the ncosde radicalization programme.

the derad programme team in maiduguri consists of specialized employees, including psychologists, social workers, sport-instructors, art-therapists, work-instructors, and spiritual caretakers. they are deployed to maiduguri mscc with the primary task of supporting the rehabilitation and reintegration of those inmates associated or allegedly associated with boko haram.

moreover, with the support of the government of the united states, unodc has been able to further expand its approach to enhancing the rehabilitation and reintegration capabilities of the nigeria correctional service across several other major correctional facilities in the north east.

further assessments are ongoing aimed to determine related needs of the principal correctional facilities in port harcourt and lagos.

these efforts complement the already ongoing work of unodc in partnership with unfpa and unaids aimed to improve the access of prisoners, in particular women and girls, to health services, including hiv/aids prevention, treatment and care.

all these efforts seek to operationalise the 2021 united nations common position on incarceration which at the global level aims at: shifting policies towards prevention and non-custodial measures, improving prison conditions and strengthening prison management, and advancing the rehabilitation and social reintegration of offenders.

the common position firmly places prison reform and the treatment of offenders at the center of urgent justice and rule of law priorities, and recognizes them as an integral part of the 2030 agenda for sustainable development. the improvement of welfare, rehabilitation and reintegration of prisoners is a core objective of unodc’s strategic vision for nigeria.

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