Community leaders in Borno state, North East Nigeria, have pledged to support the seamless transition of ex-offenders back to their communities upon release. This promise was made during a strategic dialogue on the role of community leaders in inmates’ rehabilitation and reintegration, which was held on February 9, 2023, in Maiduguri, Borno State.
The community leaders, who comprised religious representatives, traditional leaders, and members of the civil society, commended the Nigerian Correctional Service for ensuring that offenders are effectively reformed while in custody. They recommended that massive sensitization be carried out to educate the public on the need to hold out an olive branch to offenders returning to normal community life after imprisonment.
The dialogue, which was convened by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), saw officers of the Nigerian Correctional Service, led by the officer-in-charge of the Maximum Security Custodial Centre, Maiduguri, Deputy Controller of Corrections (DCC) Abdulazeez M. Jibia, clarifying grey areas and concerns raised by the community leaders as they relate to the modus operandi of the Service.
In an extensive lecture, the Head of Social Work Group in Deradicalization, National Headquarters, Abuja, Assistant Controller of Corrections (ACC) Rose Oji, enumerated to the delight of the participants the numerous programs and strategies that the Service employs in offenders’ reformation, rehabilitation, and reintegration. She encouraged them to refrain from stigmatizing ex-offenders, as it can lead them back into re-offending, thereby hampering public safety.
Earlier in a remark, the Project Officer of UNODC in Nigeria, Dr. Femi Ajayi, welcomed all participants and said that the dialogue was aimed at ‘understanding the roles and responsibilities amongst the different constituencies on the reintegration of former offenders.’ He went further to inform participants that the UNODC focus area in penal reforms includes; reducing the scope of imprisonment, improving the condition of custodial facilities, and supporting the social reintegration of offenders upon release.
AD UMAR MNIM, ANIPR, AICMC, FCAI
Assistant Controller of Corrections
National Public Relations Officer