Kwara State Governor, Dr Abdulfatah Ahmed, on Sunday called for an urgent reform of the prison system in the country.
The governor made the call while receiving the Comptroller-General (CG) of Nigerian Prisons Service (NPS), Mr. Ja’afaru Ahmed in Ilorin.
He said that the action was necessary to enable the prisons to achieve their role of reforming convicted prisoners before their re-entry into society.
The Prisons CG was in Ilorin following a violent clash which had occurred between inmates and warders at the Oke Kura Prison in Ilorin.
Ahmed described the incident as unfortunate, saying that the restructuring of the prison system was expedient.
He said the reforms should address the challenges affecting administration of prisons in the country, especially in the area of infrastructure and prisoner rehabilitation.
The governor said that any faulty prison system would adversely affect the service and the society, as unreformed ex-convicts may go back to crime.
According to him, it is impossible for prisons built decades ago, when Nigeria’s population was much lower, to cope with the rising number of inmates.
He, therefore, urged the CG to liaise with the supervising Ministry of Interior and the Nigeria Governors’ Forum so as to table the issue before the National Economic Council, and secure the support of state governments.
Ahmed said that the Kwara State government had programmes in place to engage the youths and make productive, in order to minimise criminal tendencies.
He listed such programmes to include the State Micro-credit Intervention Scheme and the International Vocational Centre at Ajase-Ipo.
The governor disclosed that the state government would extend the vocational training programme to prisons in the state.
This, he said, would empower interested inmates, so that they would be engaged and effectively reintegrated into the society after serving their sentences.
Earlier in his remarks, the NPS Comptroller-General 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 were congested; noting that the Oke Kura Prison, Ilorin was no exception.
According to the CG, congestion often creates friction among inmates and prison officials which sometimes results into violence.
The CG emphasised the need to decongest prison facilities across the country.