Deputy Comptroller-General, Corrections at the Nigerian Correctional Service, Chukas Njoku has disclosed efforts by the agency to reform inmates.
In an interview with EduCeleb.com on Wednesday, he admitted that the COVID-19 pandemic had also taken its toll on efforts within the correctional system just like elsewhere.
It is about a year since the signing into law of a bill to reform Nigeria’s prison system by President Muhammadu Buhari.
Tagged the Nigerian Correctional Service Act, 2019 it was meant to usher in various reforms in the lives of the inmates while in custody.
Njoku believes that the law would further improve officers and stakeholders in the rehabilitation of prisoners.
“The law has given us a broader spectrum of rehabilitate and reform our inmates, he said.”
He equated the correctional centres with schools.
In his words, “They are essentially training institutions”.
He said that inmates are open to both professional and non-professional skills.
Based on collaboration with the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN) and other state and non-state actors, he added that the NCS had continued to increase access to education among inmates.
Also, products of the continuing education programme within correctional facilities have been graduating from various schools in recent years just as those who opted for skill acquisition were being empowered with tools to work.
He added that in the welfare unit of the NCS, officers in charge of inmates’ education collaborate with various schools in the facilitation of learning.
By the law, inmates are included in the compulsory and free education programme of the Nigerian government.
But this does not apply after they might have been released from jail.
He said that the NCS Comptroller-General, Jafaru Ahmed prevailed on the NOUN Vice-Chancellor, Abdallah Adamu to allow even ex-inmates further have access to free education at Nigeria’s sole distance learning institution.
In his words further, “The Vice-Chancellor gratiously accepted that once you are in custody and you commence any educational programme at the National Open University, even when you are discharged, you are given that free education up to PhD if you wish.”
More than 600 inmates are currently enrolled in various academic programmes at NOUN.
He believed that this additional privilege given to inmates would further empower them to aspire for greated heights in the future.
While the interview lasted, he assured the public of humane treatment of inmates and the expansion of custodial centres towards decongestion as he called for colloboration from all quarters in the bid to reform and rehabilite inmates.
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