The Controller General of the Nigerian Correctional Service (NCoS), Mr Haliru Nababa, has appealed to all stakeholders and the general public to accept and welcome ex-offenders into society.
Nababa made the call during the International Conference on Prisoners Justice in commemoration of International Prisoners Justice Day on Thursday in Abuja.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Prisoners’ Justice Day is a solidarity movement that takes place annually on Aug. 10, and the theme for this year is “Enhancing Global Response for Prisoners Justice.”
The movement began in Canada in 1974 in support of prisoners’ rights and to remember all the people who have died of unnatural deaths while incarcerated.
Nababa was represented by the Deputy Controller General in charge of Finance and Account Department, Mr Abdullahi Magaji.
The NCoS boss said that stigmatisation of ex-offenders is indeed a challenge to modern corrections, as it is counter-productive and has a way of pushing them back to the way of crime.
“I appeal to all stakeholders, and indeed the public, to open their arms to ex-offenders who have experienced total behavioural change as a result of the reformatory tools they subjected themselves to while in custody,” he said.
Nababa emphasised that the service, beyond keeping offenders out of circulation, provides a variety of treatment regimes for them based on their individual risks and needs assessments.
This, he said, includes educational advancement opportunities for those with the capacity; diverse vocational skill acquisition; modern agricultural and farming techniques; psychological treatments; guidance and counselling; sports and recreation; and religious activities.
“Of significant note is the admirable partnership the Service has enjoyed with the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN) since the year 2012. This is where hundreds of inmates have bagged several academic qualifications, including a PhD, free of tuition fees. The same goes for Yewa College of Education, Ogun State, just to mention a few,” he stated.
According to him: “For inmates who undertake vocational skills training, the after-care scheme of the Service, as resources permit, provides them with starter packs to begin their trades upon discharge. This systematically smoothens the reintegration process.”