By Omeiza Ajayi
It was a case of ‘the rich also cry’ Thursday in Abuja when the Controller General of the Nigerian Prisons Service, Ahmed Ja’afaru, recounted how some time ago, he was stranded along the Kaduna-Abuja road as a result of bad fuel which he bought from a fuel service station in Abuja, the nation’s capital.
The CG spoke when he presented empowerment tools to 45 ex-convicts and also commissioned the renovated Henry Akingba Medical Centre at the Prisons Headquarters in Abuja.
At the event which was the last lap of the Offenders’ Reform Programme of the Service, one of the beneficiaries (names withheld), a fuel tanker driver, said he was sent to prison after he was nabbed for mixing several litres of water with the fuel in his tank.
“I remember the day I was stranded at Jere”, the Prisons boss began.
“We bought fuel and half of it was water. I had to sleep in Kaduna. Some tanker drivers will take tankers and stop by the bush and then take three drums of fuel from inside the tank. They will now refill the tank by pouring three drums of water into the tank to mix with the fuel.
“I believe they were later arrested because I called my friend who was the owner of the filing station and through out that night, he had to switch on all the pumps to dispense the several thousands of litres of water that had been discharged to him as fuel”.
Presenting the “aftercare” materials to the ex-offenders, the CG urged the beneficiaries to justify government’s “heavy investment in providing these tools by working hard and being worthy ambassadors of the Nigerian Prisons Service”.
According to him, the idea of imprisonment for punishment alone has become primitive and outdated. “It is our sincere conviction that incarceration is not the end of life for anybody, as every jail term if desired, can be used to transform the life of an individual and return him back to the society as a better, productive and responsible citizen”.
Earlier, Deputy Controller General, Health and Social Welfare, Mrs Husseina Kori said the aftercare of the prisons service “is a post-discharge programme aimed at equipping discharged inmates with start-up materials to hit the ground running in the various skills they have acquired while in incarceration. The scheme also monitors the performance of these persons so as to actualize our mandate of reformation, rehabilitation and re-integration of inmates back into the society”.
While handing over the medical centre to the service, Managing Director of AIICO MultiShield Limited, the service’s Health Management Organization, Dr Leke Oshunniyi said “the decision to embark on a Corporate Social Responsibility Project for the benefit of the NPS was made sometime in the year 2016. I am delighted that what was once a vision is now a reality. We hope that this event will mark the beginning of an even closer relationship between us.
“Let me seize this opportunity to thank on behalf of all Nigerians, the Controller General, officers and men of the Nigerian Prisons Service for their quiet but indispensable role in the security of our great nation. Only few people outside of the Service know that there are over 200 prisons in Nigeria. This is an indication of the quiet efficiency and effectiveness of the NPS in subserving its role”, said Dr. Oshunniyi.