The Nigerian Correctional Service (NCS), Gombe State Command, says about 119 inmates in two custodial centres in the state have undergone vocational skills training.
Mohammed Sharu, the state controller of NCS, said in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Thursday that the nine-month training was part of efforts to reform inmates.
Sharu said the command only trained those that were convicted from two years upward so that “they will not go back to criminality when they return to the society.”
According to him, Gombe State has embarked on several skills acquisition training for inmates in block making, carpentry, plumbing, soap making, bag making, aluminum pot making, tailoring, and electrical installation.
“In Billiri Maximum Security Custodial Centre, there are 89 inmates that will graduate soon, while in Gombe facility, 30 have graduated and have been discharged.
“We are now making efforts with the state and the local governments to assist them with starter packs for them to practice the skills acquired,” said Sharu.
The correctional boss stated that the emphasis on vocational skills programme was in accordance with the mandate of the service to reform the minds of inmates as well as empower them, and also discourage them from drug use.
He said it was worrisome that most of the inmates in the five facilities in the state were youths between the ages of 21 and 30, and that 90 per cent of them were drug addicts.
“Most youths when they bring them to our centres, they are not in their senses. Some will spend two days and don’t know where they are and after three days they realise they are in our facilities.
“Based on our interviews with them, over 90 per cent are on drugs; any form of drug they see they take and this is of serious concern to us and it is painful,” he said.
In order to address the challenge of drug addiction, Sharu said his command was partnering with the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) to rehabilitate inmates through counseling.
He added that his command was paying a lot of attention to the reformation of minds to ensure that what sent them to their facilities was addressed before they finished serving their sentences.
“The new correctional act is laying more emphasis on reformation, rehabilitation, and reintegration of inmates; that is the act is now paying attention to the reformatory acts of imprisonment than the punitive aspect,” he said.
He commended the Federal Government for supporting the centres in the effort to ensure that youths are given the needed skills and training to become better citizens.
While stressing that the Gombe State government recently visited the Gombe Custodial Centre to assess the skills acquisition centre, Saru called for the support of the government towards the expansion of the centre.
The correctional boss advised youths to “forget about drugs if you want to make an impact in life; drugs will lead you to crime and I am telling you there is no gain in crime.”
NAN reports that as of Tuesday, there are 1, 260 inmates in the five custodial centres in Gombe, Tula, Billiri, Cham, and Bajoga facilities with 697 inmates awaiting trials.