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How Ikoyi prison inmates are improving their lives through educational opportunities

How Ikoyi prison inmates are improving their lives through educational opportunities
January 12
12:25 2022

Life in confinement is anything but ideal but inmates at the Ikoyi Medium Security Custodial Centre are challenging the status quo and striving to overcome the rigour, stress and inconveniences by ensuring that they acquire some form of education during their period of incarceration.

Abdulhafez Ibeti, 31, is one of the awaiting trial inmates at the Ikoyi prison. He nurtures the dream of studying international relations and diplomacy at the university.

To achieve his ambition, he enrolled himself in the secondary school classes organised by the authorities of the correctional centre to prepare inmates for O-level examinations and the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME).

He sat for the UTME in 2021 and had a score of 268, one of the highest recorded in the prison. Ibeti said he was able to achieve the feat because he developed a strong reading culture in the prison, adding that he complimented the teachings in the prison school with his personal drive.

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The commissioning of the new Ikoyi prison library.

Ibeti was incarcerated in 2016 over the alleged rape of a 14-year-old girl, although he insists that he is innocent of the charges. He is optimistic that in the next three months, a judge will give a verdict on his case and he will be released from prison.

Adesina Ahmed is another inmate who is making judicious use of his time in prison by ensuring he is on the right track to becoming a teacher.

In 2020, Ahmed was among the inmates who enrolled for the West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE). He passed all his subjects, excluding Yoruba.

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He described his learning experience as “tedious,” adding that he was only able to navigate it by staying determined and focused.

Ibeti and Ahmed spoke with TheCable during the launch of a new library donated by the Centre for Legal Support and Inmate Rehabilitation (CELSIR), a non-governmental organisation (NGO).

CHAMPIONING INMATES REHABILITATION THROUGH EDUCATION

In its bid to provide rehabilitation support for inmates, CELSIR, with support from Ford Foundation, donated a library to Ikoyi prison, with the aim of reforming the minds of inmates through books.

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The new library in Ikoyi prison.

Joke Aladesanmi, executive director at CELSIR, said the organisation swung into action after the old library was burnt down during the violence that trailed the #EndSARS protest in 2020.

Aladesanmi said the organisation hopes the library would be a place that lightens the hope of the inmates and modifies their mindset.

“Our organisation is an NGO with the mandate of providing legal and rehabilitation support aimed at equipping prison inmates with psycho-social and life skills necessary for a positive and productive lifestyle post-release,” she said.

“Our primary watchword as an organisation has been ‘efficient and effective rehabilitation’… the need to be deliberate and intentional about our approach in reaching out to the inmates.

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“We strongly believe that the quality of our approach is what makes the difference. With this drive, CELSIR, in the past year, has partnered with the correctional facility to provide educational and mental support to the inmates.

“We have provided virtual classes for inmates, enrolled for Joint Admission Matriculation Board (JAMB) and the general certificate examination. CELSIR has also donated solar power to the facility to ensure the smooth running of the virtual class.

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“Inmates have also been supported with examination preparatory resources. All of this assistance culminated in the inmates’ excellent results, especially in JAMB where one of them scored 268.

L-R: Rotimi Oladokun, public relations officer, Nigerian Correctional Service, Lagos state command; Aladesanmi Joke, executive director, Centre for Legal Support and Inmate Rehabilitation; Olayinka Adeyemi, director of public prosecution, Lagos state ministry of justice; Ayoola Opadeji, deputy controller of prison; Adesuwa Ighile, representative, Ford Foundation; Aladesanmi Adedoyin; and Abayomi Idris, education officer/school principal at Medium Security Custodial Centre Ikoyi.

“The library is a 21-user library with resources that cut across different genres. The library has an e-library section that has resources for inmates undertaking undergraduate and postgraduate programs at the National Open University of Nigeria.

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“It is our utmost desire that the library would be a place that lightens the hope of the inmates, modifies their behavior, changes their mindset, and empower them with skills that would make them into positive and productive citizens.”

Also speaking during the launch, Rotimi Oladokun, spokesperson of Lagos command of the Nigerian Correctional Centre (NCS), who represented controller of corrections in the state, urged the inmates to develop themselves with the programmes available in the prison.

Oladokun encouraged the inmates to see beyond their present circumstances and take advantage of the opportunities in the prison.

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