By NAN The Peace Corps of Nigeria, an NGO, has secured the release of four inmates of Otukpo Medium Security Custodial Centre in Benue.
The corps, which secured the release of the inmates through the payment of their fines, also offered immediate employment to them. It also donated a cow, bags of rice and salt, gallons of groundnut oil and other foodstuffs to the facility.
The National Commandant of the Corps, Prof. Dickson Akoh, said on Friday during a visit to the facility, that the gesture was part of their humanitarian activities.
He said that having been incarcerated at Kirikiri, Kuje and Suleja prisons in the course of his advocacy, he understood the need to help inmates through empowerment and mentoring to become better citizens.
“Surprisingly, the sacrifice I made has already succeeded in engaging over 170 inmates who mostly are graduates in different fields.
“We are here to reform your life not that when you are released, next week you come back to the centre again”, Akoh said.
He urged members of the larger society not to stigmatise the inmates after their release, to enable them to blend into the society.
The commandant pledged to complete the Chapel at the Centre which was at the foundation level.
One of the released inmates, Moro Benjamin, expressed appreciation to the corps and pledged to avoid crime at all cost.
In his remarks, the officer in charge of the Centre, Assistant Controller Alabi Rasaq, urged those who secure the release of inmates to always offer them psychological support and empower them to stand on their feet.
“If those that secured the release of the inmates follow up and meaningfully engage them, crime rate would be reduced,” he added.
Rasaq explained that although the Correctional Service undertake reformation programmes for inmates, most of them commit crimes shortly after release because of lack of support outside.
He said that the Otukpo Correctional Centre, established in 1923, has 115 inmates and offer training in soap and shoe making, as well as sports to the inmates.
“Youths should take advantage of the skill acquisitions organised by NGOs to empower themselves instead of going around to commit crimes,” he advised.
He appreciated the peace corps for its intervention and urged other organisations to emulate it.