AKWA IBOM, Nigeria – The Controller of Corrections Services, Akwa Ibom state command, Alex Oditah has decried the spate of congestion in all the correctional facilities in the state.
He said the high number of people awaiting trial had worsened as over 70 percent of inmates in their facilities fall on that list.
Oditah disclosed this on Monday at the command headquarters in Uyo, during a press briefing in commemoration of the ‘1st Inmates’ Rehabilitation Concert Unity For Success Security Week 2019, with the theme: ‘Effective Leadership: A Recipe for Peace, Security and National Development.’
According to Oditah, “the four facilities in the state have been over stretched. Currently the facilities have a total of 2,559 inmates against its carrying capacity of 1,336.
“Uyo Correctional Centre has capacity for 613 inmates but currently accommodating 1,282; Ikot Ekpene centre has 400 capacity but accommodates 756 inmates; Eket centre has 123 capacity but now holds 365 inmates, while Ikot Abasi centre has 200 capacity but has 156 inmates.”
Oditah said 41 inmates, comprising 39 males and 2 females were on death row.
The State Corrections Service boss said the week-long event was part of efforts to train officers on how to go about their duties, as well as reform and rehabilitate inmates.
He added that the event would witness bible quiz competition, cultural performance, among others by the inmates alone.
Oditah noted that most of the inmates who passed through their custodial centres have been reformed and have acquired some skills, noting that some who were released have also become hardened because of rejection from the society and their families.
On the challenges of rehabitating the inmates, Oditah said, “70 percent of those who are in our facilities are awaiting trial. It becomes difficult for us to engage them in any particular skill because their date of discharge is not known.
“If an inmate who is in our facility awaiting trial is sent to the tailoring section, and the tailoring section is supposed to carry out tutelage for about three years, and by the time the person spends two months, he is let go, it defeats the very purpose of rehabilitation.
“But for those whose dates of discharge are known, it becomes very easy. If someone has three years imprisonment, you know the actual section to send him to, either tailoring or shoe making. It is very difficult to send an awaiting trial to any particular skill centre because his date of discharge is obviously not known. These are the very serious challenges in rehabilitating and reforming some of the inmates.”
Oditah said the commission was optimistic that when the 2019 Act of the Correctional Service is approved and becomes law, many of the challenges of the agency, especially the problem of congestion in their facilities would be addressed.
He also lamented that the Correctional Service was the least celebrated among security agencies in the country, and hoped the situation would change.
“We are the national security goal keepers. All other security agencies arrest these law offenders and they end up in our facilities, yet we are the least celebrated among all the security agencies,” Oditah said.