There was a palpable celebration at the Kuje Custodian Centre, Abuja when some of the inmates who bagged various university degrees from the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN) were presented with the certificates.
In an event organised at the Kuje Correctional Service, where the graduates’ families, Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs), and other relevant authorities were in attendance, the university presented their certificates from the Convocation Ceremony of March, 2023.
The Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Olufemi Peters, represented by the National Coordinator for Special Study Centres, Mrs. Adesina Modupe, said the inmates’ achievement is a testimony of their commitment and determination to add value to their lives, and to prepare themselves to contribute to society upon their release, despite their incarceration.
“I would like to admonish our grandaunts today, that the sky truly is not your limit; rather you are the only ones who can place limits on yourselves; know that there is no telling how far you can go in life and the best that you can have,” Modupe said.
She urged other inmates to take advantage of the 100% scholarship given to them by the university to run any programme of their choice in partnership between the university and the Nigeria Correctional Service.
The coordinator also stated that the university had taken the decision because it has appreciated the abundance of wealth, greatness and prospects and the beautiful future the inmates have in the nation, their families and themselves and deemed it fit to provide this opportunity to help ensure that they take full advantage of it.
On his part, the Controller General of Correction, Nigeria Correctional Service, Haliru Nababa, represented by the Controller of Corrections in charge of FCT Command, Ibrahim N. Idris, stated that education is transformative and powerful rehabilitative tool for development in society.
Nababa added that with the certificate they have received they can compete anywhere without being stigmatised.
He appreciated the university for its unwavering support to the correctional service all over the federation in ensuring that inmates are being reformed through education, saying that since inception of the programme, over 200 inmates have enrolled in Kuje centre alone.
The controller enjoined other inmates of the facility to also take advantage of the free education and other vocational skills to get themselves equipped for success in the larger society upon their release.
The centre director Controller of Corrections, Francis Enobore (Rtd), called on the public to desist from stigmatising ex-offenders, as they have been corrected and should be accepted back into the society with all rights and privileges to avoid re-offending.
The Deputy Controller of Corrections in charge of Kuje Custodian Centre, Christopher Peter Jen, while urging the inmates to take advantage of the 19 different vocational/skills acquisition training programmes that are ongoing in the facility to better their lot, cited that white collar jobs are limited, but with skills they can be independent entrepreneurs as they combine education with skills.
On their parts, the graduates, who spoke through Dabu Christian Picado, expressed their profound gratitude to the Correctional Services, and the National Open University of Nigeria for helping them rediscover themselves and putting them in the right path through the education scheme.
They assured the authorities of their will to never put the efforts to waste, but will remain agents of change in the society.