By Rosemary Ogbonnaya
As the world marks Nelson Mandela International Day, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, UNODC has said prisons in many parts of the world, including Nigeria are confronted with various challenges especially overcrowding due to the overuse of pre-trial detention.
The UNODC said out of the 74,675-prison population, 71 percent are awaiting trial, adding that overcrowding has led to other challenges which include, poor sanitary conditions which facilitate the spread of infectious diseases, lack of adequate vocational and recreational facilities and emerging
security threats such as violent extremism.
The International agency said due to the scarcity of resources, the needs of female prisoners who constitute only 2 percent of the prison population, are often not fully met.
To support ongoing efforts of the Nigerian Correctional Service (NCoS) to address some of these
challenges, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) has partnered with the NCoS on promoting the practical application of the Nelson Mandela Rules; also known as the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners, in the North-East part f the country.
In collaboration with the Government of Germany, the United States Embassy, and other sister agency, the United Nations Population Fund,UNFPA, UNODC has since July 2021 to date provided extended to the NCoS extensive training on dynamic security management for close to
50 prison officials, including officers assigned to the Deradicalization Programme of the
UNODC has promoted the integration of sports into a holistic rehabilitation programme, including
the construction of football fields and volleyball courts together with the supporting sporting equipment.
others included, facilitated infrastructural improvements to certain custodial centres in the North-East, including the renovation of 2 vocational and 1 academic classroom; enhanced the vocational and educational services provided to inmates of the Maiduguri Maximum Security Custodial Centre. This was done through the provision of educational materials for primary, secondary, and tertiary education; promoted gender sensitivity in prison management including through the provision of 346 Dignity Kits to women in custodial centers; and upgraded the water facility at Maiduguri Maximum Security Custodial Centre, with
plans underway to roll this support out to 5 other custodial centers in the North- East.