The Deputy Controller of Corrections (DCC), Mr Kelvin Iloafonsi, says Enugu Custodial Special Study Centre undergraduate population grew from 12 to 318 within the past 12 years.
Iloafonsi, who is the Education Desk Officer of the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN) at the Centre, disclosed this to newsmen in Enugu on Wednesday.
He noted that the Centre was given approval in principle to establish NOUN Enugu Maximum Custodial Special Study Centre on July 11, 2011; adding that in the 2011/2012 academic session only 12 inmates (students) gained admission into NOUN.
According to him, “it was extremely difficult to convince an inmate to enroll in our academic programme that ranges from primary to university education, even as we visited from cell-to-cell pleading for them to register with us.
The education desk officer said that their usual response was “that they will go to school outside when they have their freedom”.
He said: “We saw that idea as a primordial sentiment and mere triumphant hope over sound reasoning; but we intensified our efforts and changed their mind-sets.
“Today within a space of 12 years, our student population here has increased from 12 to 318 students.
“It was a pyrrhic victory, going by the emotional and mental state of an average prisoner and challenges in changing that ugly narrative.
“Within this short period of time, our Centre has recorded outstanding achievements, endured a lot of setbacks and registered inevitable shortcomings since no human organisation is perfect.”
Iloafonsi noted that the centre had produced a student, Mr Adeniyi Theophilus ,who studied Peace and Conflict Resolution, and came out as overall best graduating student in the entire Custodial Special Study Centres nationwide.
He said that Adeniyi came out with an outstanding cumulative G.P. of 4.34 and G.P. 4.48 for his B.Sc and M.Sc respectively.
According to him, Adeniyi has been discharged and acquitted from Custodial Centre and he is currently running for his Ph.D programme at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN).
“Some of our students were granted Federal amnesty (discharge and acquitted) through jail delivery on the basis that they were students of NOUN who have distinguished themselves in character and in learning.
“This is courtesy of NOUN, Nigeria Correctional Service (NCoS) and all our partnering Non-Governmental Organisations, which included Isaac Blessing Foundation, CAPIO, Ikeoha Foundation and others.
“We make bold to state unequivocally that we have historical evidence that none of our discharged students since 2011 has ever returned to any custodial centre as a recidivist.
“These successes and others are clear indications that the vision of the Controller-General of Corrections (C-G), Mr Haliru Nababa, on prisoner’s reformation, rehabilitation and reintegration is really at work,” he said.
He appreciated the Vice-Chancellor of NOUN, Prof. Olufemi Peters, for graciously approving and supplying 100 sets of brand new computers and desk to the Centre in 2020 to aid the students since their academic programmes are computer-based.
This, he said, was an act of magnanimity and show of unquenchable desire towards ensuring that the students at Enugu center were well reformed and rehabilitated before reintegration back into the larger society.
“Our students can now confidently have access to downloaded course materials, solve their Tutored Marked Assignments (TMA) and engage in writing thesis and making academic research with computers and enabled internet facility,” he added.
It would be recalled that NOUN recently issued certificates to 14 graduates at its 12th Convocation at the Centre as well as matriculated 50 fresh students for the 2022/2023 Academic Year at the Centre.