By Sunday Iduh
Bishop of the Anglican Diocese of Makurdi, Nathan Inyon has called on government at all levels to put in place adequate facilities at the correctional centers to help inmates acquire skills and make available grants that will enable them establish themselves after serving their terms in order to reduce the growing level of crimes in the society.
Bishop Nathan made the call in a key note address during the Yellow Ribbon Project sensitization organized by Prison Fellowship Nigeria (PFN), Benue State at Faith Cathedral, Makurdi.
The Bishop Who was represented by Venerable Samson Ngbede said ” I came into Prison Fellowship ten (10) years ago. It was very challenging because we had difficulties in getting funds for the project. The joy is, the way the Prison ministry is responding to the gospel of Christ is very encouraging”
“The reintegration of ex-convicts back to the society is a project that requires the attention of all and sundry. They should be adequate and sustained campaign against discrimination and stigmatization of ex-convicts for them to have a sense of belonging and prevent them from the second Prison,” he stated.
The Chairman, central planning committee, Engr. Israel Otokpa disclosed that the Yellow Ribbon Project is aimed at letting the public know the need to accept ex-convicts. ” there is need for them to be taken as our brothers and sisters. Yellow signifies freedom, gentleness and purity.
“We want to let you know that God has greatly used us to work on the character of the ex-convicts. Accepting them back has become a a serious challenge as they also suffer rejection from their immediate family.
“The most important aspects of the Yellow Ribbon Project is to avoid second Prison by absorbing ex-convicts back to the society. If you don’t accept them, they will go back to crime. If they go back to crime, they will eventually go back to Prison”
The Chairman, PFN, Benue State, Apostle Segun Ogwimeh explained that the PFN was established to handle the spiritual needs of the inmates, reform and reintegrate them back to the society, adding that the Yellow Ribbon Project is to let society know that ex-convicts can still make meaningful contribution to the development of the society and should be accepted to make such impact.
The representative of Makurdi Correctional Service, Stephen Soor in a remark expressed appreciation to the Prison Fellowship for always being there for the inmates and staff, saying PFN, Benue State had in the past donated clothes, hired Lawyers, paid fines of various amounts for inmates among others.
He explained that the change in name from Nigeria Prison Service to Nigeria Correctional Service was done in a bid to reintegrate ex-convicts back to the society.
Arch Bishop Yiman Okwar of Faith Cathedral represented by Rev. Orkwar Terkura disclosed that it is the duty of Christians to be actively involved in the Prison Fellowship. He said it is even of more duty when the inmates are out of the Prison and charged Christians to work more in order to give these groups of people the opportunity to live freely in the society again
An ex-convict, Oloche Omale who spoke at the event, expressed appreciation to the PFN, saying their efforts made him to regain his freedom and gave him a reason to live again. He disclosed that his father has refused to accept him back which has made live difficult
They were presentations from a Psychologist, Professor Elvis Ihaji of Benue State University and Albert Aondofa of Elyin Trust Foundation on the need for society to create opportunities for ex-convicts to live life again.