The Nigeria Correctional Service (NCoS), Federal Capital Territory Command, has sensitised traditional leaders in Gwagwalada Area Council against discrimination of ex-offenders.
The sensitization, which took place at the place of Aguma of Gwagwalada, was organised in partnership with the Prisoners Rehabilitation and Welfare Action (PRAWA). and Hope Behind Bars Africa.
The Comptroller of the command, Mr Ibrahim Idris said on Thursday, that the sensitisation was part of activities to commemorate the 2023 Yellow Ribbon Campaign to raise awareness against discrimination of ex-offenders.
Idris said that it was dangerous to discriminate against ex-offenders, stressing that discriminating against them could worsen their situation and make them more dangerous to society.
“If we condemn ex-offenders and don’t give them opportunities to contribute to the development of the country, society will become worse.
“The pronouncement of imprisonment itself is enough punishment for offenders, and not everyone that has been to the correctional centre is an offender.
“The correctional service does not punish but reforms and rehabilitates offenders through skills training, business, farming, and other skills to earn a living.
“Also, the Nigeria Correctional Service Act, 2019, has empowered the Comptroller General of NCoS to give certification that an inmate who served his term is fit to return to the society,” he said.
He warned that if people do not integrate ex-offenders after certified fit to be reintegrated back to society, there was every likelihood that the offender would go back to crime.
The comptroller urged residents to accept ex-offenders back into society, give them job opportunities and allow them to participate in politics, business, and family life, including marriage.
This, according to him, will significantly reduce crimes in communities.
In her remarks, the Deputy Director of PRAWA, Mrs Ogechi Ogu, advised residents against discrimination, out-casting, and condemnation of ex-offenders, which she described as “second prison”.
Ogu noted the disturbing negative profiling of persons who were out of correctional centres in most communities.
She pointed out that reformed citizens were usually considered as castaway, isolated, denied access to job opportunities, and sometimes rejected even by their families.
“International human rights instruments on detention specifically noted that such treatment by society, is one of the reasons why offenders go back to crimes,” she said.
She advised that employment rules against ex-offenders should be expunged and other laws that go against the human rights of ex-offenders be addressed.
She lauded the NCoS for the reformation and rehabilitation programmes put in place to ease the reintegration of ex-offenders back to the society.
She called on well-meaning individuals and organisations to come to the aid of offenders by settling their fines to reduce their stay in custody.
On his part, Mr Samson Onuche, the Programmes Manager, Hope Behind Bars Africa, urged traditional leaders to take the messages against discrimination of ex-offenders to the doorsteps of their subjects.
This, according to him, will make local communities more receptive and accommodating to ex-offenders.
Responding, Alhaji Mohammed Magaji, the Aguma of Gwagwalada, promised to mobilise members of the communities to be accommodative to offenders.
Magaji, who was represented by an official of the traditional council, Mr Madaki Waziri, said that council would ensure that no ex-offenders were denied any opportunity due to him or her. (NAN) (www.nannews.ng)
Source: News Agency of Nigeria