The Lagos State Command of the Nigerian Correctional Service has issued a strong response to allegations made by the state Commissioner of Police, Idowu Owohunwa.
The police commissioner had asserted that custodial centres were being transformed into training grounds for hardened criminals.
The NCoS characterized these statements as unfortunate, misleading, and unprofessional. It expressed disappointment that the police commissioner had not exhibited a deep understanding of the correctional system and failed to acknowledge the commendable services provided by these facilities.
Despite challenges such as overcrowding and congestion, the NCoS reaffirmed its commitment to offering inmates opportunities for reformation, rehabilitation, and successful reintegration into society, in line with its mission to deliver access to justice.
The statement was released by Rotimi Oladokun, the spokesperson for the Lagos State Command of the Nigerian Correctional Service.
The statement added that the command was sorry for the misunderstandings caused by Owohunwa’s comments because they may lead to discrimination and prejudice towards ex-convicts, which in turn could fuel crime.
The statement partly read, “Keeping 9400 inmates out of circulation in five facilities with a total capacity for only 4167 is next to a miracle and requires support from all and sundry, not a blanket condemnation.
“For the avoidance of doubt, the NCoS has zero tolerance for all forms of unethical and unprofessional conduct on the part of both Staff and Inmates with appropriate sanctions including suspension, dismissal and prosecution for those found wanting.
“Unarguably, the NCoS is discharging its statutory functions to the extent of changing and transforming the lives of both serving and former inmates with empirical and verifiable proofs in the areas of formal and non-formal educational programmes ongoing in all our Custodial Centres with over 1000 inmates undergoing various degrees programmes up to PhD as well as NCE and GCE.
“Vocational and entrepreneurial skills have been acquired by over 3000 inmates from our various workshops namely- Tailoring, Carpentry, Shoe making, Artwork and Paint Making. Others are Music Production, Bakery, Computer training and Cane work. The NCoS also provides Agricultural training projects like Gardening, Fish farming and Poultry within our facilities.
“Thankfully, we have active partnerships with the National Open University of Nigeria, the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency and many NGOs and religious organisations complimenting our training programmes.
“In area of crime prevention, the NCoS continues to share actionable intelligence with other law enforcement agencies which has led in no small measures to crime prevention and arrest of culprits.
“Importantly, NCoS ensures that the security at our Custodial centres deters jailbreaks which ultimately has improved public safety cum national security.
“Regrettably, the misrepresentation in the assertions made by the said official has the tendency to reinforce prejudice and discrimination against former inmates which can lead to unintended consequences of recidivism and fuel crimes.
“Belonging to the same family of Administration of Criminal Justice, Crime prevention and management is a shared and complimentary responsibility by various stakeholders which can be made more effective and efficient by mutual respect, synergy and collaboration amongst the respective law enforcement agencies.”
Owohunwa has previously criticised prison authorities in an online post, claiming that prisons had become breeding grounds for criminal groups and incubators for hardened criminals.
According to the source, the remarks were made at the State Police Command Headquarters in Ikeja while parading detainees who are accused of robbing and killing Senator Solomon Adeola’s assistant, Mr Sanni Adeniyi.