Nigerians urged to stop stigmatizing Ex-Convicts

Cynthia Okere, Lagos

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The Executive Director of Centre of Corrections and human development CCHD, Mrs. Obioma Agoziem has frowned at the high rate of stigmatization on ex-convicts and migrants in Nigeria.

She stated this in Lagos during a workshop on Stigmatization and Discrimination of Ex-Offenders/Enforced Migrants within and beyond Border, organized by CCHD.

Mrs. Agoziem explained that most ex-convicts are denied employment because of fear that they may go back to their vomit after some time.

According to her, a number of them changed through some reform programmes during their stay in the prison and are ready to embrace a new life.

She said there is need to embrace, love and reintegrate them back to the society.

“So many of them have gone to school and have received a life transforming education. It is good to always check their records and achievement from the prison before they were discharged. Denying them job because of stigmatization may make them more hardened and push them to worse crimes than before.’’ she said.

 Equipping Ex-Convicts.
The controller of Prisons Lagos State Command, Tunde Ladipo explained that Nigeria Prison Service made it compulsory that every inmate have the opportunity to be educated and empowered technically before leaving the prisons.

Aside that, the Controller explained that the Commission also monitor the ex- convicts progress when they are out of the prison trained and equipped in order to ensure that they are reintegrated back to society after release.

He urged all and sundry to eschew any act capable of taking them to prison especially now that the election is near.

 ‘’Everything comes with time. There is no need to rush making money at all cost. Now that election is coming, ensure you get your PVC and vote peacefully to avoid violence that may lead any one to prison,’’ he explained.

Ex-Convict Recount.
A renowned entrepreneur and an Ex-Convict Mr. Arthur Angel described the Nigerian prisons as hell which no one should pray to come into.

He explained that the inmates are not cared for as portrayed by government, stating that a number of them are malnourished and ignored.

According to him, many of the ex-convicts are stigmatized because they came out empty from the prison with nothing to lean on for daily bread stressing that many became more hardened and preferred going back to prison than suffering and being stigmatized because of that.

“Neutral people should take up the management of the prison if there must be a way forward. I know that some families of three or more in the country do not spend fourteen thousand naira in a meal per week. Therefore, there is no way you will prove it that the government is spending fourteen thousand on the head of one inmate every day and the inmate is still malnourished,’’ he added.

Confidence Okwuchi