*To repair and transform inmate are part of the restorative justice reform that PFI seeks to achieve–Andy Corley
*Providing, legal aid and spiritual upliftment for the inmates, help them to find our purpose in life and to reconnect with their maker–Daniel Odharo
*Faith therapy are essential in psycho clinical counseling–  Olujide Adeleke
*As the AG it is his duty to ensure that the society is safe through the instrumentality of the law–  Moyosore Onigbajo

The Controller General Nigeria Correctional Service, Ja’afaru Ahmed, has praised the Nigerian Correctional Services Act (NCSA) 2019, for the changes that it brought to bear, and particularly, Section 10 of the Act which allows for the service to partner with religious-based organization, for the spiritual needs of the inmates, thereby recognizing that spirituality is a tool for behavioral changes.

Ahmed who was ably represented by the Assistant  Welfare, ACG Daniel Odharo, made this remark on Thursday, at the National Prison Ministry Conference 2020 of the Prison Fellowship Nigeria.

Speaking on the topic, he said “Optimizing the contributions of faith-based organization in behavioral modifications, rehabilitation, and reintegration in line with Nigeria’s Correctional Service Act, 2019” Odharo,  appreciated the support of the fellowship with the service, especially in the areas of spiritual well-being of inmates, as well as, the provision of legal aid, medical supplies, and provisions.

He acknowledged how the service has been effective in the last month, in ensuring that spiritual leaders and coordinators are posted to various Correctional centres as a way of meeting up with the demands expected of the service.

He further recognized that since the incorporation of the fellowship in Nigeria, and its subsequent partnership with the service, there has been monumental changes and growth, especially with the medical supplies, and relief packages supplied to the service for inmates. He considered that their impact in the life of the inmates have also transcended just material needs, but to also providing legal aid and spiritual upliftment for various inmate, by helping them find purpose in life and reconnect with their maker.

The President, Prison Fellowship International, Andy Corley, while speaking on the topic “Global partnerships and synergy in custodial inmates and families’ programmatic interventions-implications for socio-economic empowerment”, he said that for the delegates to properly understand the need to assist inmates in their spiritual life, it’s important to build their mind on these premises.

“All humans (including prisoners) are created in God’s image; all humans (in including prisoners) have equal dignity before God”.

He considered that the environment a person grows up in,  plays a role in how the individual is formed (either negatively or positively), and that most inmates are merely victims of their upbringing, or the environment that they have be nurtured into, and do not just decide to be deviants in society.

For him, a just society must ensure that Justice is properly done, however, whilst he recognizes the fact that whilst conviction and imprisonment can punish an offender for a wrong done, it cannot reform the soul, hence the need to allow the reformation of the soul through its acceptance of the love of Christ and the merit of Christ death.

Without this inner conviction and repentance, it may be difficult for an inmate to stay off the life of crime and criminality, as the inner person hasn’t undergone a change of heart, noting that remorse alone, may not necessarily keep an individual off crime. He stated that for real transformation to occur, it involves every aspect of personhood.

To repair and transform inmate are part of the restorative justice reform that PFI seeks to achieve. The fellowship which was formed in 1979, has moved from a mere global presence to having and sustaining global impact.

“Thorough transformation begins with the change of the individuals heart and mind, and this is the true aim of the prison visitation, little wonder the fellowship is stationed in over one hundred and twenty (120) countries, of which its Nigeria’s station is part of.

“The fellowship also doubles as the largest prison fellowship in the world and has been recognized by the United Nations, on affairs of prison visitations and services. 

“The programs of the fellowship have also been centered around;
-Breaking generation crime cycles (Prisoners’ emotional and Psychological health).
— Identity Transformation (through the evangelization to prisoners)
— Behavioral Transformation (to heal and help both victims and offenders alike,” he added.

Speaking on the topic Antisocial Behavioral Patterns, Faith-Based Therapy And psycho clinical counseling— What Nexus?, Prof. A B.Williams the Vice-Chancellor, Covenant University, Ota, who was represented by Prof. Olujide Adeleke, noted that Anti-social behaviors are consistent and persistent pattern of life, values or norms that are considered as deviancy in society.

“Such lifestyle are not peculiar to the Nigeria social space.

“These behavioral patterns most often than not are poised in such a way as to endanger other individuals, either physically or psychologically, within the society for these behaviors to be considered Antisocial examples being smoking, drinking, cultism, exam malpractice, abortion, rape”.

He further noted in his lecture that, youths and young people constitute the highest number of inmate by percentage, and that depending on their various upbringing, as usually caught up in numerous Antisocial behaviors, and if not checkmated at an early stage can escalate into something more deadly and destructive in future.

He opined that, these behaviors are usually birthed as a result of constant interactions between the adolescent and his/her parents, as well as their peer groups. With the current by the world over, youths are faced with a constantly changing world, hence when dealing with the young generation, it’s important to consider what form of youth a person is dealing with, as the dynamics ought to be used at a given instances not to produce the exact result used previously.

Prof. Olujide Adeleke, considered that faith therapy are essential in psycho clinical counseling because the first step to recovery is grievance for an act done, and this is usually the first goal of most faith-based therapy.

“Further to this is the settings of boundaries by the individuals, that is, a clear value metric and limits to one’s action, and yet again this is provided by most faith-based therapy, as upon the grievance by the inmate, most faith-based therapy prescribes a form of lifestyle for the inmates, thereby placing a somewhat superior limit to the dos and don’ts of the inmate in line with the respective holy writ of the faith-based organization.

According to the Professor, although faith-based form of therapy is new, it is nonetheless very effective as it seeks to use the beliefs and practices of the inmates to reach the inmates inner being, thereby achieving a “total transformation” of the individual.

He stated that common faith-based therapies include; Faith-Based Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (FB-CBT) or Religious Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (RCBT).

The Attorney General of Lagos State, Mr. Moyosore Onigbajo during his remarks said as the AG, it is his duty to ensure that the society is safe through the instrumentality of the law, and by so doing, ensure that offenders are adequately prosecuted as a means of ensuring justice in the society.

He further stated the improvements done in the criminal justice sector, especially as it relates to non-custodial sentences, thereby ensuring the gradual decongestant of the prisons, examples of such which includes, community service as well as plea bargain arrangements.

He however stated that his administration, are fully working with a view to ensuring that restorative justice is possible in the state.

He wished the panelists and delegates, a fruitful deliberation during the two (2) days event.

Meanwhile, the first day of the two days event saw over sixty-eight participants.

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