History and Strategic studies\Historical analysis of Nigeria prisons system and its impact in taraba state. A case study of jalingo and zing prisons, 1991-2018


Price: 2000 Naira (BSC, MSC)


The main aim of establishing the prison institution in all parts of the world including Nigeria is to provide a rehabilitation and correctional facility for those who have violated the rules and regulations of their society.  However, the extent to which this maxim is true in practice has been a subject of controversy. A casual observation of the population that goes in and out of the prisons in Nigeria presupposes that there are some problems in the system, hence the prisons system has not been able to live up to its  expected role in Nigeria. Against this background, this paper makes an argument on why reform is necessary in the Nigerian prisons. Some of these reasons include reforming the prisoners to be better than what they were before they were imprisoned, rehabilitate the prisoners in order to equip them with new skills or improve on their old ones, and seclude criminals from the rest of the society, pending when they have atoned for their “sins”.

The structural-functionalist approach of the system theory for the study of human society and culture as proposed by Radcliff-Brown of the British School of social anthropology and later developed by Meyer Fortes and Max Gluckman is utilized in explaining prison environment. Main sources of information for this study are primary materials like questionnaires and personal interview of the prison staff, inmates and secondary materials which include journals and official bulletin of the government.

Among other issues, this discourse articulates various reforms that have already taken place and are still on-going in the Nigerian prison system. These include efforts in the decongestion process, provision of necessary infrastructure facilities and other logistics including transportation services and general skills acquisition programmes. This article also makes a critical impact appraisal of the reform processes in the system. From the appraisal, the author believes that there are more gains than pains in the system since the gradual reform processes therein. In order to deal finally with prison congestion, this paper suggests that the decongestion committee needs to be strengthened in its work by changing their periodic visit to the prisons to be more regular and frequent, more prison yards need to be built, and more non-governmental organizations should be encouraged and allowed to visit the prisons to monitor the activities there, from which they can make an input in form of suggestions to the various reform committees on what to do.




Most study on the prisons has been concern with the sociological analysis of the prison as a social system and has examined the social structure, role and normative system, and value orientation of the inmate. (Awe, 1968, Goffman, 1961). These and other studies developed propositions concerning the effect of the community on both the institutional and post institutional behavior of convicts. Yet little attention has been given to an empirical evaluation of Nigeria convict as he or she is faced with the prison with prison rehabilitative ideals.

Contrary to the assumption of many, the prison system has been around long before the amalgamation of 1914 from mere detention centers to Native Authority Prison and to the current Federal system we have today, the prison in Nigeria have come a long way.

The origin of modern prisons service in Nigeria is 1861, the year when conceptually, western-type was established in Nigeria. The declaration of Lagos as a colony in 1861 marked the beginning of the institution of formal machinery of governance. At this stage the preoccupation of the colonial government was to protect legitimate trade guarantee the profit of the British merchant in Lagos formed a police force of about 25 constables. This was followed in 1863 by the establishment in Lagos, a police court to resolve party disputes among merchants and traders. The functioning of the courts and the police in the colonial settings necessarily means that prisons was needed to complete the system. And it was not long in coming, for in 1872, the Broad street Prison was established with an initial capacity of 300. In the Niger Delta, the relationship between the local people and the British merchant court was underscored by the fact that the most conflict between the merchant and the local people were mainly commercial. Although that was evidence of prison in Bonny at the time, not much is known about the size and content. But those who were later to oppose British rule were usually deported as happened in the case of King Jaja of Opopo and King Dappa of Bonny.

The prison also known as correctional centers tries as much as possible through their little budget from government to rehabilitate prisoners through the following means:

  • Vocational aptitude training of the prisoners
  • Sporting activities
  • Psychological evaluation
  • Provision of essential services like library, health care etc


The Nigerian prison service has from time to time initiates reforms and rehabilitation that focuses on the welfare of prisoners, though most of the rehabilitation programs don’t get fully implemented. Most times, the Nigerian Prison Service (N.P.S) will have will have ideal plans for rehabilitations and re-integrations, but there will not be enough funds from the government to accommodate such plans, also some prison wardens sees the inmates as convicted felons that don’t deserves any form of rehabilitation and re-integration. The focus of this research work is to identify these problems as they affect the rehabilitation of prisoners by the Nigerian Prison Service.

This research work intends to find out the following:

a. The impact of rehabilitation on prisoners

b. the overcrowding status of the prison.

c. the various forms of rehabilitation works going on in the prison.


The purposes cum objectives of this research are as follows:

a. To assess the different roles the Nigeria Prison Service plays in ensuring prisoners rehabilitation.

b. To investigate the impact of rehabilitation on prisoners.

c. To make recommendation based on the research findings


It is hoped that the findings of the study to a great extent will help in improving the performance of the performance of the Nigerian Prison Service towards prisoners’ rehabilitation.

It will also help in giving future research studies on insight into the problems faced by the Nigerian Prison Service in ensuring rehabilitation for prisoners. Above all, it is hoped that the adaptation of the recommendation will go a long way in ensuring a steady and stable rehabilitation and re-integration for inmates of the prison.


This research will be limited to Owerri Prison Headquarters and Owerri state prisons. The researcher encountered problems in the course of the study, the problem ranges from financial constraints following the fact that the researcher is a student and there was no extra funding from the outside world for this project.

Also getting approval from the prison management to carry out research on their prison took time, due to the bureaucratic process in the prison. Nevertheless, the outcome of this research work is not hampered by the mentioned limitations.


 H1: Prison personnel are enough to carry out the full process of rehabilitation.

 H0: Prison personnel are not enough to carry out the full process of rehabilitation.

H2: Overcrowding has no effect on prisoners’ rehabilitation

HO: Overcrowding has effect on prisoners’ rehabilitation

H3: Prisoners are taught skills acquisition and development initiatives?

HO: Prisoners are not taught skills acquisition and development initiatives.


I. The prisoner: is a person proved guilty of a crime alleged against him/her and legally sentenced to punishment of a confinement in a prison. In other words a prisoner is a person sentenced to penal servitude.

II. Prison: a prison is a building designated by law or used by the sheriff for the confinement or detention of persons who are judicially ordered to be kept in custody.

According to Lectric Law library lexicon (2003) a prison is a place where persons are confined or restrained from personal library. It can also be regarded as a correctional detention or penal faculty. Hence the prison is often referred to as a correctional institution where offenders are confined or punished.

III. Reformation: (mostly called reforms) this refers to measures calculated to impact moral improvement in a person’s character so that he will be less inclined to re-offer the future. (Ahire 1990)

IV. Rehabilitation: This refers to the post release effort to make it easier for the offenders to resettle in a society (Ahire 1990)

V. Warder: A person who works as a guard in a prison, and also responsible for supervising and making sure rules are obeyed.

VI. Assumptions: A thing that is thought to be true or certain to happen but is not proved.

VII. Constable: A police officer of the lowest rank.

VIII. Community: The people living in one place, district or country considered as a whole.

IX. Psychological evaluation: This is an examination into a person’s mental health by a mental health professional such as a psychologist. A psychological evaluation may result in a diagnosis of a mental illness. It is the mental equivalent of physical examination.

X. Government: A group of people governing a country or state.

XI. Penal servitude:  A state of being forced to work for others and having no freedom.

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