By BISI ADEDAYO, Ilorin
Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed of Kwara State has called for urgent reforms of the nation’s prison system in order for the prisons to achieve the role of reforming inmates before their re-entry into the society.
Ahmed made the call while receiving the Comptroller-General of Nigerian Prisons Service (NPS), Mr. Ja’afaru Ahmed, who paid him a courtesy visit at the Government House, Ilorin on Monday in the wake of recent deaths of prisoners at Nigeria Prison, Oke Kura, in the state capital.
Describing the death of six inmates at the Ilorin prison as unfortunate, Ahmed noted that the restructuring of the prison system should address the challenges affecting administration of prisons in the country especially in the area of infrastructure and prisoner rehabilitation.
He lamented that the deteriorating condition of prisons in Nigeria, saying that it has become an issue of major concern to many Nigerians.
The governor stated that any faulty prison system will adversely affect the service and the society as whole as unreformed ex-convicts may reoffend.
According to the governor, it is impossible for prisons built decades ago when Nigeria’s population was much lower to cope with the rising number of inmates as a result of increase in the national population and, consequently, crime.
Ahmed, however, urged the prison boss to liaise with the supervising Ministry of Interior and the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) “so as to table the issue before the National Economic Council (NEC), and secure the support of state governments”.
The Governor disclosed that that the Kwara state sgovernment has programmes in place including the State Micro-credit Intervention Scheme and the International Vocational Center at Ajase-Ipo, “which are geared towards making the youths productively engaged in order to minimize criminal tendencies”.
He added that in line with global best practices, the state government will extend the vocational training programme to prisons in the state with a view to empowering interested inmates so that they will be engaged and effectively reintegrated into the society after serving their sentences.
Ahmed maintained that prison congestion often creates friction among inmates and prison officials which sometimes results into violence, stressing that there is urgent need to decongest and secure prison facilities across the country.
Earlier in his remarks, the NPS boss called on the state governors across the federation to assist prisons in the state with vehicles and other logistic supports.
He lamented that most prisons across the country were congested, adding that the Oke Kura Prison, Ilorin was not left out.
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