NCoS calls for end to stigmatisation of ex-convicts

NCoS calls for end to stigmatisation of ex-convicts

Ibrahim Idris, the Comptroller of the command told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Thursday after a sensitisation road walk against stigmatisation of ex-offenders, held in Gwagwalada Area Council in Abuja.

Idris said the removal of the criminal conviction portion on employment forms will curb discrimination and stigmatisation against ex-offenders.

NAN reports that the sensitisation is an annual Yellow Ribbon Campaign, organised by the NCoS and the 2023 campaign done in partnership with Prison Rehabilitation and Welfare Action (PRAWA) and Hope Behind Bars Africa, an NGO.

The comptroller said that there is need to end stigmatisation of ex-offenders and for them to be given opportunities to be reintegrated into the society.

“Today is yellow ribbon day, it is an international day for peace and we mark it in the NCoS with sensitisation on ex-inmate of correctional services.

“We took the campaign to the chief of Gwagwalada today to sensitise his people both religious, traditional and all other members of the community on the need to give ex-offender opportunities in the town.

“Whether in terms of job, marriage and other social activities because it has been the practice of the public to ostracise ex-inmates, and they believe that once an offender is always and offender.

“But by virtue of our new Act, the Nigeria Correctional Service Act 2019, the basic thing now is corrections and there’s no room for punishing offenders again,’’ he said.

Idris said that the new act had a section that empowered the comptroller general of NCoS to certify that an inmate was fit to return to the society.

“It is assured that the inmate has been purged of offences and there is no likelihood of offending again and that certification is enough to assure the society that all is well.

“If we condemn ex-offenders and don’t give them opportunities to contribute to the development of the country the society will be worse of,’’ he noted.

He added that unfortunately the issue of the portion on employment forms where one is required to fill whether they’re an ex-convict or not has been a thing of concern at the policy level.

That is why certification was inserted into the new act and we would continue to do advocacy for the society and employers to give opportunities for ex-offenders to be integrated into the society.

“In most cases it is just lack of education or ignorance that makes people to fear that portion of employment because in more advanced countries they also have that segment and people display the certificate of correctional services.

“When you have once been in a correctional service it is not a problem and it shouldn’t hinder people from getting jobs’

“But we know this is a developing country, it’s a continuous process, we will continue to advocate at the policy making level,’’ he added.

The FCT controller said that the pronouncement of imprisonment itself was seen as enough punishment for offenders and the inmate in the correctional services were now been reformed and rehabilitated to make better life choices.

He said that NCoS did 50% by reforming and rehabilitating offenders and the other 50% was left for the society to receive the ex-offenders without condemning them or discriminating against them.

After doing our job, we believe we have done 50 per cent of corrections and the remaining 50% is left for the society to embrace the ex-offender.

“Once they embrace these ex-offenders, there’s every likelihood that the offender will not go back to crimes.

“But once they refuse to accept him or her in spite of the certification of the comptroller general of corrections.

“That man or women is fit and proper to go back to the society and the predators and king of crimes who are always around will receive them and they will go back to crime and become worse.

“So to reduce crimes and criminalities, the society needs to accept this ex-offender back into the society, give them opportunity for jobs, politics, business, family and marriage

“Once they do that the cycle of reoffending would be broken and we will have less people reoffending,’’ he stated.

He, therefore, called for support and assistance from the media and the public to assist the NCoS in curbing crimes and ending discrimination against ex-offenders in the country.

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