Bishop Williams charges government on prison reforms

Bishop Kayode Williams

Renowned cleric, Bishop Kayode Williams has impressed on the government on the need to take prison reforms very seriously.

Bishop Williams, who is also the Director- General of the Prison Rehabilitation Mission International Inc.(PREMI), who spoke at a press conference in Lagos, recently, described the plans by the government to release 4068 inmates across the Nigerian Correctional Centres, however admonished that proactive steps should be taken in order to ensure the stability of the system, such that inmates can be truly persuaded to turn a new lease of life as they get fully reintegrated back into the society.

While lamenting the parlous state of the correctional centres, Bishop Williams lamented the poor maintenance culture in the prisons.

Most of the inmates who are not adequately prepared for the return journey back into the society easily join other corruptive influences, a development, which make them prone to criminality and other nefarious activities.

It may be recalled that the Minister of Interior, Dr. Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo had stated that “the government’s commitment to transform custodial and non-custodial facilities was initiated to align with international human rights standards and effective correctional practices, and was in line with President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s vision.”

While lauding the minister for taking the initiative as a measure to decongest the custodial centres, the PREMI boss however said there was need to prepare the inmates adequately ahead of their return into the society.

“Over the years of our vigorous engagement in reformation, rehabilitation, reintegration and resettlement of ex-inmates reveal to us that less attention has been paid to the ‘life-after-prison’, especially the perpetual stigmatisation and failure to positively integrate them into a full social system. Most of the acquired training and skills from the correctional centres are abandoned, when they found themselves in helpless agony and hunger which resulted from lack of follow-up and committed attention to systematically engaging them in social development and continued mentorship.”

He was however quick to admit that the responsibility to reintegrate the ex-inmates must not be left alone to the government, as far as PREMI is concerned, he said, noting that President Bola Tinubu is making concerted efforts towards taking the country out of the woods by responding to germane issues of insecurity, economic sabotage and acute corruption and much of which are already yielding positive results.

PREMI, he maintained, is more than ready to partner and support the positive initiative of the Federal Government drawing from its understanding of the custodial environment both locally and internationally.

“Our teams of experts have the technical know-how based on international best practice to support the Nigerian Correctional Service as well as offer strategic development expertise that will ensure safe and secured integration of ex inmates into our fragile society. It should be noted that such brilliant initiatives to release over 4000 inmates must be supported with practical approach from all stakeholders, to turn them into positive participants in the nation’s growth, no doubt will in very short time birth the reality of a renewed hope agenda of Mr. President in the holistic national transformation, maximising home-grown concepts and African values in which PREMI is endowed and fully equipped.”

Specifically, as part of efforts to support prison reforms, PREMI, he said, has concluded plans to stage numerous local and international programmes in the first quarter of 2024 and beyond.

“We are planning an International Conferences on Prison Reforms and Correctional Leadership – ICPRCL proposed to be hosted in Lagos, Addis Ababa, Etwasini, United Kingdom and USA,” he said, adding that the organisation is committed to bring stakeholders from different countries together to share their valued experiences and intellectual resources for the advancement of human rights, culture of global peace and secured communities.”