Ukwu Prince and thankGod Emeh, Owerri.
Government at all levels are advised to always see to the welfare of inmates from time to time in order to keep them physically and mentally sound as well turn them into better persons when they leave the correctional centres.
The Founder and Executive Director of Gift Health Plus Inc, a US based Non Profit Organization aimed at alleviating the plight of the disadvantaged and vulnerable population in society, Chief Chamberlain Nwanne gave the advice on his visit to the Federal Correctional Centre, Owerri in collaboration with the National Human Rights Commission, NHRC to make donation of medications and personal hygiene supplies to inmates at the centre on Thursday June 3, 2021.
Chief Nwanne stressed the need for inmates at the correctional centre to be treated with somewhat dignity, adding that it is not out of place for the government to take up certain responsibility of inmates to ensure that they exist and feel a sense of belonging.
“We are opportune to partner with the national Human Rights Commission to help provide medical services to all the Federal Prisons in Nigeria and part of that partnership involves providing the inmates regardless of religion, ethnicity, political affiliation and creed with some health assistance”
He decried how hopeless it can be for a number of inmates especially the ones that are still awaiting trial and have not gone through justice to ascertain their innocence or guilt of the alleged crimes and offences hence the aim of the medical outreach to the inmates
I was told that there is a very serious need for personal hygiene as a result we brought toothpaste, toothbrushes, soap, body lotion, body wash because I know sometimes it seems hopeless being in jail especially when I know most of these people are still awaiting trial and have not gone through the course of justice”
“Today, we have a thousand doses of Anti-Hypertension medications, a thousand doses of Anti-Diabetic medications, a thousand doses of Anti-Malaria medications and a thousand doses of Multi-Vitamins medications”, the Gift Health Plus Chief Executive stated.
The Imo-born US based Philanthropist added that the Prisons ought be a place of re-orientation and re-programming of inmates’ bad lifestyle as obtainable in advanced countries and not otherwise.
“What we are doing is to instill dignity in the inmates even when they are proven guilty because the prison should be a rehabilitation home than punitive and the least we can do is to provide some of these essential things for them to have some dignity while serving their jail terms”
Speaking also, the State Coordinator, National Human Rights Commission, Imo State Office, Mrs Ukah Ukachi said it is the Commission’s mandate to protect, promote and enforce citizens’ right adding that the visit to prisons is part of the responsibility.
She thanked the Founder, management and staff of Gift Health Plus Inc for coming through and making sure that rights of inmates at Owerri Correctional Centre to health are not endangered rather given a sense of dignity.
“I am so happy and glad because I know this is part of the core sector that the National Human Rights Commission is mandated to do. We are happy because we see one of us coming to partner with the Commission to do one of its functions which is our sole responsibility to partner with NGOs and CSOs to make sure that the rights of citizens are protected”
“We are so happy with Gift Health Plus for their act of understanding the need of the time. We appreciate his effort and that of the organization at large for reaching out to the Owerri Correctional Centre”
The Imo NHRC Coordinator advised that people should always speak out against extra-judicial killings and injustices around them noting that the Commission will not fight for their rights in vacuum except through valid complaints and petitions to the Commission while assuring those that have reached out to them of their cases being properly investigated and handled.
“People should speak out and it is not hearsay that people’s rights are being trampled upon in the state. So people should come up with complaints so that the Commission will be able to work on it as it has been working. I urge people whose rights are trampled upon to come up for the Commission is out to make sure that they get justice”
While commending the Founder of the donor organization -Gift Health Plus and the National Human Rights Commission, the Deputy Controller of Nigeria Correctional Service and Officer in-Charge of Owerri Correctional Centre, Imo state, Mr Oduntan Seyi Olukoya who noted that the donations are timely as regards the attack of the facility by hoodlums about two months ago expressed deep appreciation for the donations and prayed greater heights of the two organizations for coming to their aid.
“I say a very big thank you to the National Human Rights Commission whom through which the Non-Governmental Organization, NGO came in with all those items. The coming of these items is timely in the sense of filling the vacuum created in the Owerri Correctional Centre months back”
DC Olukoya also noted that there are structural and infrastructural innovations in the Owerri Federal Prisons to truly serve it as a correctional centre in educating inmates, re-designing, rebuilding and repackaging inmates’ lifestyles to fit in the larger society on completion of their jail years while pointing out insufficient logistics owing to destructions during the #EndSARS protests and current strike of Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria, JUSUN as major challenges facing the center.
“In terms of correctional activities we have been trying our best since I came in here in 2018 as Officer-in-Charge and without mincing words, there has been a lot of turn-around in terms of correctional activities. In 2019, Nigeria Prison Service migrated to Nigeria Correctional Service and it encompasses reformation, rehabilitation, and reintegration, the Correctional Officer added.