Home News Oyo Begins Full Implementation Of Community Service As Alternative Punishment

Oyo Begins Full Implementation Of Community Service As Alternative Punishment

Those who committed minor offences in Oyo State would be made to participate in community service in stead of going to prisons
With that action, Oyo becomes the second state after Lagos, to begin full implementation of the law.
Community service is recommended for minor offences whose punishments carry jail term not exceeding three years.
Speaking at the annual stakeholders’ review and agenda setting workshop on community service scheme in Oyo State organized by Justice, Development and Peace Commission, JDPC, commissioner for justice and attorney general, Prof. Oyelowo Oyewo, said that the law will afford the courts the opportunity to sentence convicts of minor offences to hours of community service under thorough supervision of community service officers, shielding them from going to prison where they may become hardened criminals.
Oyewo explained that without serious commitment to full implementation of the community service laws, the potential effects and impacts of decongesting the prisons will not be achieved.
He disclosed that a visit to Abolongo and Agodi correctional service centres  in Oyo and Ibadan respectively revealed that only the signboards of the institutions have changed from the former nomenclature of the Nigeria Prisons Service, stressing that some of the official vehicles still bear the old name while facilities are yet to be equipped with vocational centres for inmates to acquire skills that would make them useful after serving their jail term.
Chief Justice of Oyo State, Justice Abimbola Munta, who was represented by Justice Ladiran Akintola, said that there is a need to evolve a structure to guide the implementation of community service scheme.
President of the customary court of appeal, Justice Eni Esan, who was represented by the chief registrar, Mrs Bukola Ajadi, said community service offenders should not be restricted to court premises alone to serve punishments but should be taken to community where the offense was committed.
Giving a report on monitoring of community service punishment on behalf of JDPC, Ibadan, its programme officer, O.V Oladoyinbo Esq disclosed that between January and November  2019, 195 offenders of minor offences have been sentenced to community service in the state. “This goes to show that at least, 195 offenders of minor offences who should have been sentenced to prison custody are given the option of paying for their crimes by engaging in community service, thereby making them useful to the society while reducing the number of inmates in custody,” said she.
She added that “It is also pertinent to state that the scheme is gradually gaining popularity in the administration of criminal justice in the state. So much that high court judges have also started exploring community service as an alternative to imprisonment for repentant defendants and in other exceptional circumstances. In the course of the year, not less than three offenders were sentenced to community service from the high court.”
Speaking on the impact of Oyo State community service law/sentencing in the last one year,  the deputy chief registrar (probate and community service), Mrs. O.A Ogunrin, said that it came into being in August 2017 at the High Court of Justice, Ring Road, Ibadan after the passage into law of the community service punishment law of 2016 and the administration of criminal justice law of Oyo State, 2017.
She said that “prior to the establishment of the community service center, the main punishments meted out to offenders in the state were imprisonment and/or fines, but mostly imprisonment, especially in cases where fines were inapplicable or the offenders was not able to pay the fine.
“This situation unfortunately led to a catch 22 due to prison congestion, which meant the convicts for minor offences/misdemeanors had to mix with felons who then taught them the tricks of the trade. Thus, the said offenders came out, more knowledgeable about the crime perpetration and would often end up going back to prison again,” she added.
She revealed that “the establishment and implementation of community service as a sentencing option or alternative has ameliorated the above vicious cycle, because the presiding magistrate, after finding a defendant guilty of a simple offense, misdemeanor or offense which does not carry more than three years imprisonment, can sentence such a convict to community service. Thus, the number of convicts sent to prison to serve their term of punishment is reducing in applicable cases.”
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