prison welfare

Fostering Social Justice: A Glimpse into Prison Welfare and the Nigerian Judicial System

“Behind the cold steel bars of our prisons lies a chilling tale of shattered dreams, forgotten humanity, and a system that demands redemption as urgently as those it confines.” In the pursuit of a just and equitable society, the lens turns to one often overlooked aspect – prison welfare.  Nigeria, like many nations, grapples with challenges within its penal system, raising critical questions about social justice. Two  critical issues in the system are:  The State of Nigerian Prisons: Nigeria’s prison system faces multifaceted challenges, including overcrowding, inadequate facilities, and limited access to healthcare. As custodians of justice, it is our collective responsibility to ensure that these spaces promote rehabilitation and humane treatment rather than perpetuating cycles of hardship.  Legal Aid and Access to Justice: Ensuring access to legal representation is a cornerstone of social justice. Many individuals in Nigerian prisons face prolonged detention without trial due to various factors, including lack of legal representation. Strengthening legal aid initiatives is crucial to upholding the principles of fairness and justice.  A paradigm shift is essential – from punitive measures to a focus on rehabilitation. Prisoners should be provided with opportunities for education, vocational training, and mental health support to facilitate their reintegration into society. This approach not only serves the cause of social justice but also contributes to reducing recidivism. Our “Beyond the Walls Initiative, a five-year, self-funded project is one of the strategies we use to involve stakeholders in favor of criminal justice reforms. Where we support the convicts’ well-being and a shorter court process timeline by providing Pro-bono and psycho-social support services. We are in favor of correctional facilities modernizing their systems to make them more favorable to inmate reintegration and prison decongestion. The pursuit of social justice in Nigeria demands a comprehensive examination of the state of prison welfare. By advocating for humane conditions, rehabilitation, and access to justice, we can collectively contribute to a society that upholds the principles of fairness and compassion. Let us embark on this journey, fostering a system where justice is not only blind but also empathetic, recognizing the inherent dignity and potential for redemption in every individual.

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Legend DA’s Story

Legend DA (Not his real name) was arrested in 2018 and charged with armed robbery and homicide. DA always maintained his innocence. He was remanded in Kuje Correctional Center and was kept awaiting trial for 4 years. Our team took up his case and in 2022, DA was discharged after the Judge granted a motion praying the court to strike off his name from the charge due to lack of evidence against him. LGCF helped DA with transport money back to Kogi, where he is now reunited with his family.

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Legend Ehimen Osahon’s Story

I, Ehimen Osahon, hails from Edo State. I have an NCE in Computer education/Accounting, and BSc in Education management. Prior to my arrest on November 7th, 2016, I lost my job as a banker with United Bank for Africa Plc and as a married man with a wife and two kids I have to get a boxer (modern J5) to start a food business. I buy and sell and transport plantain, pawpaw and pineapple to different places such as Abuja, Kaduna, Onitsha, Port-Harcourt etc. for survival hoping and praying for a better white-collar job. On this fateful day, I was approached by one Mr. Emma to help him convey some items to Kaduna and transport cost was agreed upon. I didn’t know in detail what and what I was to carry, but on getting to the location where the items were, I discovered it was cannabis sativa (Marijuana also called Igbo). I gave him a very high price in other to discourage him from using me to carry the items but to my greatest surprise he agreed to the price and I carried the items. On my way to Abaji I was apprehended by officers of the NDLEA and thus arrested, after three months in their custody, I was arraigned by Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court, Abuja. I spent 2 years and eight months awaiting trial and he (Justice Okon Abang) struck out my case on the instance of the prosecutor lacking evidence to prosecute me. However, I was re-arraigned on the same case before Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu who later sentenced me to seven years imprisonment (but to spend 4 years and 8 months). While in custody, not to waste my effective life, I picked up a master degree programme in Education administration and Planning with the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN), January, 2018. It was a tuition free programme, but other expenses were borne solely by the inmates. Therefore, the research project writing is a big bottleneck, since I don’t have the funds to finance it. Then, Legend Golden Care Foundation (LGCF) came to my rescue. Firstly, LGCF organised a Bible quiz competition for inmates at the Kuje Correctional Centre. The first prize for the competition was N20,000.00 and I won it and spent the proceeds on my project work, The Organisation, impressed at how an inmate could be running a master degree programme with the abysmal conditions in the correctional facility promised to continue from there. Since then, all other expenses I incurred to finish the programme came from LGCF and they even promised to give me a job once I am out of the walls of the Correctional Facility. On July 8, 2021 I was released, LGCF invited me to their office and gave me an employment letter, but first asked me to go back to Benin City to see my family and come back to resume once I am ready, they even gave me accommodation. There is this societal stigmatisation on ex-inmate, personally where to go, where to start from, how do I fit into the society and avoid recidivism, where all over me. But my integration into the society became very easy thanks to LGCF. Today, I have a place to stay in Abuja, I have a job to do in Abuja, and my family has reunited with me here in Abuja, all thanks to God Almighty and Legend Golden Care Foundation. I’ll forever be grateful to LGCF.

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