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PFN advocates restorative justice for offenders, victims of crime

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By Onozure Dania

The Chief Judge of Lagos State, Justice Kazeem Aloogba is set to speak at a virtual conference, aimed at promoting restorative justice to enable rehabilitated offenders and victims of crime seek justice for themselves.

The conference, themed, “Corrections, Faith-Based Therapies and Communities of Support” organized by Prison Fellowship Nigeria, is seeking to precipitate social attitudinal change towards those who are involved in or affected by crime, to enlighten and mobilize public and private sentiments for collective support in the effort to rehabilitate and reintegrate offenders.

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Executive Director, Prison Fellowship Nigeria, ( PFN) Mr Benson Iwuagwu said the speakers at the conference will explore ways to promote communal harmony for the common good, peace, security and improved socio-economic productivity.

“Crime is a multi-causal, disruptive and destructive social phenomenon which requires collaborative and synergized intervention to solve,” he said.

“As a psycho-social disease, its treatment must be purposeful, personalized and measured.

“In order to foster a holistic approach to the problem of crime, Prison Fellowship Nigeria is organizing the National Criminal Justice and Corrections Conference which will bring together various stakeholders to deliberate and propose measures that will enable our communities to tackle rising crime wave.”

Iwuagwu commended the government for signing into law the Nigerian Correctional Service Act, 2019 (NCSA 2019) and the novelty of separating the Service into two complementary directorates – custodial and non-custodial directorates. According to him, it signals the move from retributive to restorative jurisprudence in our criminal justice system.

The conference which takes on October 15 and 16, will touch area of when inmates are released from custody, whether by reason of completion of sentence, clemency or other legal recourse, they face obstacles and impediments that are counterproductive to the values and objects of reformation.

This is particularly with respect to stigmatization and discrimination. “Ostracization and discrimination against ex-custodial inmates are harmful and destructive. Legislations that discriminate against those who have had criminal convictions must be repealed. Even our laws frown at double jeopardy! By discriminating against ex-offenders and ostracizing them we are simply biting our nose to spite our face and fueling the vicious crime shuttle”, Iwuagwu.

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