Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed of Kwara Statehas called for urgent reforms of the prison system in Nigeria so that prisons can achieve the role of reforming convicted prisoners before their re-entry into society.
Governor Ahmed made the call on Sunday 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 in the wake of recent deaths of inmates at Nigeria Prison, Oke Kura, Ilorin.
Describing the incident as unfortunate, the governor 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.
Alhaji Ahmed stressed that the deteriorating condition of prisons in Nigeria has become an issue of major concern to many Nigerians, noting that any faulty prison system will adversely affect the service and the society as a whole as unreformed ex-convicts may reoffend.
He noted that 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.
He, therefore, urged the Prison Comptroller-General to liaise with the supervising Ministry of Interior and the Nigeria Governors’ Forum so as to table the issue before the National Economic Council (NEC), and secure the support of state governments.
Governor Ahmed noted that the Kwara State government 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 also disclosed that in line with global best practices, the state government will extend the vocational training programme to prisons in the State in order to empower interested inmates so that they will be engaged and effectively reintegrated into the society after serving their sentences.
Earlier in his remarks, the NPS Comptroller-General, Mr. Ahmed called on the Kwara State government to assist prisons in the State with vehicles and other logistic support.
He lamented that most prisons across the country are congested noting the Oke Kura Prison, Ilorin is no exception. He said such congestion often creates friction among inmates and prison officials which sometimes results into violence.
Mr. Jafaru also emphasized the urgent need to decongest and secure prison facilities across the country.