By Omeiza Ajayi
ABUJA – The Nigerian Prisons Service has said two of it inmates have enlisted for their doctorate degrees, urging Nigerians to stop discriminating against inmates.
Spokesman of the Service, DCP Francis Enobore stated this Monday in Abuja at a media engagement it organized with Prisoners Rehabilitation and Welfare Action PRAWA, a non-governmental organization.
“One of our female inmates recently graduated with a first class in educational management while in Port Harcourt, two of our inmates have gained admission for their PhD programmes”, Enobore said.
PRAWA’s Executive Director, Dr Uju Agomoh on her part advocated a comprehensive prison reform saying whether the prisons system was moved to the concurrent list or not, without adequate reforms, the problems confronting the prisons would remain.
“The position of PRAWA on this issue is that prison reform should be comprehensive. From the communities, local and state governments, and different sectors, attempts should be made to ensure that the desired reforms are generated.
“You can have prisons run by states, but without the fundamental philosophical shift in terms of what our prisons should be, whether they are suppose to be punitive or reformative, we will still have a problem.
“So, we are asking for a shift in terms of the mindset that even if the prisons are run by the central government as it is today, that should not stop state governments, communities and local governments from engaging and providing support.”
She urged the federal government that attention should also be given to “lack of effective coordination among the various agencies in the justice delivery system.”
According to her, these positions are part of the recommendations of the 2017 official prison survey reports to be presented by PRAWA and NPS to stakeholders on Thursday in Abuja.
On his part, the NPS spokesman said prison development was a matter of leadership commitment, and not necessarily a shift in responsibility among tiers of government.
“It is a question of perception and leadership. I have mentioned a number of improvements that the NPS has recorded under the current administration.
“Before now, the situation was horrible, but within a short period of time we have seen tremendous government intervention, we have seen increased advocacy, we have seen stakeholders’ interests coming up to do what they should do ordinarily to get things right.
“Within the period we were having serious challenges and now that things are beginning to pick up, prison service has not shifted from the Exclusive List to the Concurrent List. So, it is a question of perception of what you know the prison to be, what it is established to accomplish.
“If we get that right, there is that leadership commitment to get things right, I don’t think placement should be an issue,” Enobore said.