Governor Hope Uzodimma of Imo State has assured a team from the United Kingdom (UK) working on decongestion and reform in the Correctional Centres in the country of his government’s willingness to ensure they succeed in their assignment.
The governor gave the assurance when members of the team paid a courtesy call on him at the New Executive Chambers at the Government House, Owerri on Tuesday.
Imo State is one of the three States in Nigeria where the team would be carrying out its pilot scheme on decongestion and reform in the Correctional Centres with focus on vocational skills for inmates and training for officers.
Receiving the team led by Mr. Emmanuel Findoro Obasi who is also the Director of Trade and Investment, African House London, Governor Uzodimma thanked them for choosing Imo State alongside Kaduna State and FCT for the pilot programme, noting that their job is not only humanitarian but one that will bring about positive reforms in the Correctional Centres.
The Governor assured the delegation that “the Government of Imo State will provide the necessary support and logistics towards realising the objective of the work.”
He commended members of the team for their role in Africa, particularly in making sure that Correctional Centres are not only reformed and decongested but that justice system delivery is improved upon in the country.
He equally commended them for putting in place infrastructural processes that will entail training of both the inmates and officers of the Correctional Centres towards achieving a better society.
The Governor commended other global partners working with the UK team on reform and decongestion in Correctional Centres and advised all not to relent until their objective is realised.
Earlier while informing the Governor on the purpose of their mission, Mr. Obasi said their programme was spurred by President Muhammadu Buhari’s visit to United Kingdom three years ago when the President sought for assistance to have Nigeria’s Correctional Centres decongested and reformed through investment in infrastructure.
He explained that similar work had been done in African countries such as The Gambia and that they are in Nigeria to replicate the scheme.
A member of the group, Mr. Tim Bission said that they had looked forward to working in Imo State and thanked the Government for the commendable reception that shows the willingness of the people to be part of the processes proposed to decongest and reform the prisons through training and retraining.
In the same vein, another member of the team, Matthew Cassini, explained that they have worked across Africa, providing legal training in conjunction with the various communities, inmates and Ministry of Justice of the pilot States.
He highlighted that their programme on justice delivery has positively affected over 50,000 inmates out of which more than 20,000 have been set free while many more have got trained on diverse vocational skills acquisition.
They thanked the Governor for granting them audience and promised to put in their best to make the programme a success in Imo.
Deputy Governor, Prof. Placid Njoku, the Chief Judge of Imo State, Justice Ijeoma Agugua, the Chief of Staff to the Governor, Barr. Nnamdi Anyaehie, the Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Chief COC Akaolisa and other top government functionaries were in attendance during the visit.