By Vincent Ujumadu
Awka- AN inmate of the Awka Prisons in Anambra State, Mr. Jude Onwuzulike has registered for a Master’s degree programme in Information Technology at the National Open University of Nigeria, NOUN.
The 39-year old Onwuzulike, a father of four, was inducted at the 7th matriculation ceremony of the institution held recently at the prison premises. Authorities of NOUN and the Nigeria Prison Service, however decided to organize a special ceremony for the inmates.
The excited Onwuzulike told reporters during the ceremony that he had earlier obtained the Bachelor’s degree and Post Graduate Diploma from the Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka and University of Nigeria, respectively before he was sentenced to prison.
He said: “My first degree was in Accounting, which I obtained in 2005, while the second degree was in Mathematics. When I came here, I did a Post Graduate Diploma in Information Technology and I am now pursuing Masters degree in the same discipline.”.
He explained that he had to go into another discipline from his first degree course of study due to what he described as unsatisfactory manner the case that led to his imprisonment was investigated by security operatives, particularly the Department of State Services, DSS. He, however did not give details of what brought him to the prison.
Describing the prison as not conducive for learning, Onwuzulike who is serving life imprisonment, said it would require only a focused person to maximize the opportunity provided by the NOUN.
“Here you see all kinds of people, the uneducated, those who lack parental upbringing and those who were brought up in the motor park.
“As you are reading, they will be distracting you, including asking you to switch off the lights for them to sleep,” he said.
The representative of the Vice chancellor of NOUN, Dr. Scholastica Ezeribe, expressed delight at the inmate’s enthusiasm towards academics.
Ezeribe urged other inmates to utilize the opportunity provided by the government to better the lots of prison inmates, adding that the knowledge they acquired in prison would be of great benefit when they regained their freedom.
According to her, the vice-chancellor of NOUN, Professor Abdalla Adamu was passionate about the programme, which was why he graciously offered it to the inmates free of charge in order to encourage them and to give them hope in life.
The officer in charge of Awka Prisons, DSP Ezenam Andrew said the programme was one of the reformative packages of the Nigeria Prison Service to make the inmates useful and productive so as not to be threats to the society after their discharge from prison.