Nelson Mandela International Day

Abuja, 18 July 2022 – Prisons in many parts of the world, including Nigeria are confronted with various challenges. In Nigeria, overcrowding due to the overuse of pre-trial detention remains a key concern. Out of the 74,675-prison population, 71 percent are awaiting trial. 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. In addition, 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 of the country. In collaboration with the Government of Germany, the United States Embassy, and our sister agency the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), UNODC has since July 2021 to date provided the following:

  • 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 NCoS.
  • 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. 
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Raising awareness on prison health as a public concern, including through trainings extended to the NCoS to better manage HIV and other health-related concerns for people in custodial centers.

As the custodian of the Nelson Mandela Rules, UNODC joins the rest of the world in commemorating the Nelson Mandela International Day.

Since 2015, UNODC has set aside the 18th of July as a day to promote the humane treatment of prisoners, raise awareness about reintegration of prisoners and to value the work of those entrusted with their custody. Our partnership with the NCoS aims to improve public safety through enhanced dignity and humane treatment of incarcerated people. This is in line with the UNODC Strategic vision for Nigeria 2030, particularly priority 1.4 on improving welfare, rehabilitation, and reintegration of prisoners.