The Senate yesterday put an end to hard labour for prisoners in the country. This followed the third reading and passage of Prisons Act 2004 (Repeal and Re-enactment) Bill 2011.
Adopting the report of the Senator Atiku Abubakar Bagudu-led Senate Committee on Interior, the Senate unanimously declared that "hard labour is an inheritance from the colonial era and should be deleted and replaced with prison labour".
Section 8 (3) of the passed bill says the medical officer may order any prisoner to be excused from labour or to perform light labour, and any prisoner ordered to perform light labour shall be required to do work for which he is certified by the medical officer to be fit.
"Subject to section (8) (1), the effect of a sentence of imprisonment with prison labour passed upon a prisoner shall be that the prisoner shall be imprisoned for the period of the sentence and during his imprisonment shall work at such labour as may be directed by the Deputy Controller of Prisons. The labour referred to in subsection (1) of this section shall take place within or outside the prison, so far as practicable. This section is without prejudice to any provision of the act or regulations made there under providing for the remission of sentences", the bill read in part.
Senate President David Mark expressed optimism that the passage of the bill would help improve the Prisons Service in a way that prisoners would not become "more hardened, but better citizens".