By Tare Youdeowei & Elizabeth Uwandu
PRISON inmates spending years in the Nigerian Prisons can now further their education and be useful to themselves and the society after leaving the prison custody, as Zaccheus Onumba Dibiaezue Memorial Libraries, ZODML has donated three equipped libraries to Kirikiri Maximum, Kirikiri Medium and Badagry prisons in Lagos.
Speaking at the commissioning of the libraries, the Controller General of Prisons, Dr Peter Ezenwa Ekpendu said: ‘’Inmates have passed the WASC and NECO examinations while in prison, and have also attended the Prison Centre of the Open University of Nigeria and excelled with good grades.’’
The Controller-General who accepted the offer, also commended the CEO and the Board of Trustee of ZODML for keeping the Zaccheus Onumba Dibiaezue alive and for giving hope to the hopeless.
He said that the provision of the libraries will go a long way in enhancing inmates’ academic pursuits.
Ekpendu who spoke through the Deputy Controller-General, Mr Ogundele Emmanuel maintained that one of the functions of the Nigerian Prisons Service is to reform the inmates by engaging them in educational and vocational programmes.
His words: ‘’These libraries commissioned today are for the use of inmates and staff. You will be able to broaden your knowledge as knowledge gained through self-discovery tends to endure longer. I therefore implore you officers, men and inmates of the affected prisons to make maximum use of these libraries since there is no limit to education.’’
Meanwhile, the CEO, ZODML, Ms Ego Mbagwu revealed that in order to fully reintegrate former prison inmates into society, educational intervention is vital, adding that education helps to increase employability, reduce recidivism, and ensure a better quality of life.
She said: ‘’Our Prison Libraries are a space for reading and personal development. They provide prison inmates studying for external exams and on Open University courses with learning tools and resources, from textbooks to reference books.’’
For prison inmates who are not aspiring to further education, she noted that ZODML has made magazines and non-academic books available to keep their minds active.
Her words: ‘’We opened our first Prison Library at the Ikoyi Correctional Centre in March 2013. Greatly encouraged by the impact it immediately had on its inmates, we went on to establish the three libraries we are commissioning today and our hope is that they will provide access to positive and constructive activities and support the inmates through their rehabilitation and on the road to a better future.’’