The Prison Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN) has decried the alarming crime rate and crooked criminal justice system, as well as the congestion of prisons in Nigeria.
The body called on Nigerians to absorb ex-convicts into the society and treat them as fellow citizens, as they have something to contribute to the growth of society.
Speaking with The Guardian, yesterday, in Maryland, Lagos at a programme, tagged ‘Lunch with Prison Fellowship of Nigeria, the executive Director, PFN, Iwuagwu Benson Ngozi Iwuagwu, said: “The condition in the prison remains very challenging, daunting and a sad reflection of the state of criminal justice system in Nigeria. We still have congestion in the prison across the country, which brings about degrading conditions. Where you have 4,000 persons in a facility meant for only 1,700, then you begin to imagine how horrendous life is, and imagine whether somebody can listen to correction.”
On stigmatisation, Iwuagwu noted: “Right now in Nigeria, our value system has gone to the cleaners. Every person is rushing for wealth regardless of how. Our political leaders are not good examples, some of our religious leaders are also not a good example. The prison is populated by young people, who want to do the same thing. So, if we have created a situation of criminality, we should also contribute to solving it, by at least accepting that prisoners fell into an error. A repeat offender is more dangerous than the first offender, because he is bitter and asks why his own case is different.
“So, once we have a criminal justice system that makes the offender to ask what his crime was, because he has compared on how you treat him and how you treated others who stole public resources entrusted to them and go scot-free. So, you discovered that we are in a serious danger and we need to begin to retrace our steps by helping them to recover.”
The PFN special adviser on state matters, Pastor Alfred Ogene, who spoke on the importance of the programme, said: “We are having this programme because we want a society free of crime.”