Benson Iwuagwu, Executive Director, Prison Fellowship of Nigeria

By Obinna Unaeze

The Prison Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN) has begun the training of 566 Nigerian Correctional Service (NCS) personnel towards improving prison management across the country.

Mr Benson Iwuagwu, Executive Director, PFN, made this known on Monday, in Minna, at a two-day workshop on inmates behavioural modification programme.

“The Nigerian Correctional Service Act 2019, particularly in Section 10 (g) provides us a measured opportunity to make an input in the noble, but arduous responsibilities of the Nigerian Correctional Service to reform, rehabilitate and reintegrate custodial inmates.

“Hence, this collaborative effort by PFN, NCS, and Prison Fellowship International (PFI) to train 566 correctional service officers on our key behaviour modification and remedial programmes,” he said.

Iwuagwu explained that the programme, currently ongoing in eight zones, would train 103 officials from zone “D” which comprises Abuja, Kebbi, Kwara, Niger, Sokoto and Zamfara states.

He said the theme: “Remedial Programme Symbiotic Reinforcement” underscored the fact that the inmates were the central focus of the programmes of both the NCS and the PFN.

The executive director said that the training aimed at acquainting correctional officers with empowerment, remedial and behaviour modification programmes of the PFN, including spiritual, social and psychological programmes.

He said that the exercise would expose the trainees to a better understanding of the mutually symbiotic relationship with the reformation, rehabilitation and reintegration institutional goals of the NCS.

Iwuagwu said that in the absence of volunteers, the trained officers would keep an oversight of inmates’ facilitators.

Similarly, Mr Andy Corley, the PFI President, said that crime affected all spheres of life and the society at large.

“This is why the PFI and PFN have decided to put up this programme to support the inmates and government to bring about a better society.

“It is all about restoring lives of inmates and their families for a better society,” he said.

Inaugurating the workshop, Mr Haliru Nababa, Controller General (CG) NCoS, said that the PFN had been a key partner in raising the standard of prison management in the country.

“Recently, the fellowship renewed her collaboration as partners in the promotion and execution of the life recovery pre-release empowerment programme known as the “Onesimus” project.

“As a crime curtailment and human capital development tools through mentoring, psychoanalytical guidance and counseling, entrepreneurial and vocational training of prison inmates, with six months or less to the end of their sentence.

“This will aid their rehabilitation and re-entry into productive socio-economic life, reduce recidivism and improve security of lives and property”, Nababa said.

The CG, who was represented by Mr Daniel Osaro, Assistant Controller General (ACG) NCoS, Abuja, thanked the PFN in her determination to ensure full implementation of the NCoS Act 2019, through the provision of technical support and capacity building.

Dr Uju Agomoh, the Chief Executive, Prisoners Rehabilitation and Welfare Action (PRAWA), who was also a resource person at the training, urged the correctional officials to impact positively on their inmates through the NCoS Act 2019, to enable them become better persons in the society when they leave the correctional facilities.

“Your ability to impact positively on your inmates will go a long way in making them better persons in the society when they are discharged.

“Your good behaviour towards the inmates can change them to be better persons tomorrow.

“You have to do everything within the law to motivate them to be better persons in the society,” she said.

The Niger state Chief Judge, Justice Aisha Bwari, observed that the training would help the government to strengthen the NCoS.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the PFN is a faith-based organisation with a criminal justice and corrections bias and the primary goals of transforming lives, reconciling relationships and restoring community.