430 Prisoners Admitted For Varsity Degrees, 915 Freed – NPS

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BY ALIJO SYLVESTER, ABUJA – No fewer than 430 prisoners across the country are now pursuing their various degree programmes at the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN) to enhance their status.

This is just as 951 others serving various jail terms regained freedom following the intervention of the National Stakeholders on Prison Reforms.

Of the 430 students, three of them are on the verge of completing their doctorate degree in other universities in the country.

These were contained in a statement by the National Public Relations Officer of Nigeria Prison Service (NPS), Mr. Francis Enebore, in which he explained that the prisoners were allowed to enrol for the university education as part of reforms being implemented by the Federal Government to make life out of prison meaningful for ex-convicts.

Enebore, who spoke to journalists in Abuja on the forthcoming February 1 Public Presentation of Survey Reports on the Nigerian Prisons, said the Open University was gracious in admitting the prisoners for their higher education to make them better citizens of the nation.

He said that well-meaning Nigerians, religious and corporate bodies have been assisting the ex-convicts in providing for their educational needs.

The Prisons spokesman, at a joint media briefing with the Executive Director of Prison Rehabilitation and Welfare Action (PRAWA) Dr. Uju Agomoh, also said that 951 others were set free upon meeting conditions for freedom.

He further said that fines imposed on the ex-convicts by various courts in the country were offset by the National Stakeholders to pave way for their final release.

He said; “The prison inmates are now fully engaged in the production of food for themselves and the country in the new farm settlement schemes established in some states of the federation.

“At the moment, 17 farm settlements in Kaduna are already producing beans in commercial quantities, Bauchi farms are producing rice and Edo farms engaging in production of palm oil for the prisoners and the nation.”

Enebore commended the new reform initiative, stressing that the N450 feeding cost per prisoner per day was grossly inadequate, hence the introduction of the farm settlement schemes.

He announced that 22 tractors have been procured by the Federal Government and distributed to prisons for the use of prisoners across the country to enhance their farming skills in the production of mainly food crops adding that a good number of the tractors are also underway for delivery before the year runs out.

“In the agriculture, massive revolution is going on with prisoners now engaging in full scale commercial farming. At the moment, we have our farm settlement in Kaduna where the Prisoners have produced huge quantities of beans, in Bauchi where rice had been produced and Edo where our farm settlement is involved in the production of palm oil.

“The new prison reform is aimed at making the prisoners to produce food crops and grains for their own consumption as well as the nation at large”.

The prison spokesman also said that 217 call duty vehicles were purchased for prisons by the Federal Government thereby making prisoners to access courts for trial, while good medical services are also being provided in addition to good cells for the 242 prisons in the country.

Meanwhile, the survey report on the Nigerian Prisons would be formally presented to the Nigerian public on February, 1.

The survey is anchored by experts put together by the Prisons Rehabilitation and Welfare Action (PRAWA) as part of reforms to be put forward to the Federal Government for implementation that will lead to decongestion of the prisons and ensuring adequate welfare for all the inmates.

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