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Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Not all inmates committed crime that brought them into correctional centres – Archbishop Okeke



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By Chunks Eke

The Catholic Archbishop of Onitsha Archdiocese and Metropolitan of Onitsha Ecclesiastical Province, His Grace, Most Rev. Valerian Maduka Okeke has said that not all the inmates of Nigerian Correctional Centers really committed crime that made them find themselves inside the prison custody.

He said that most of them found themselves into the custody out of circumstances beyond their control.

Archbishop Okeke who made this observation in his homily at Onitsha Medium Correctional Centre, during his
Christmas pastoral visit said: “I am aware that some of you did not commit any crime but because of circumstances, you found yourselves here”.

“Some of you here have even overstayed your jail term still seating trial, while others are here because you don’t have persons to speak for you”, he stated.

He however urged them to serve out their jail terms diligently by learning some trades so that when they come out, they would become useful to themselves and to the society, rather than taking to crime out of frustrations.

“This is why I built an ultramodern skill acquisition centre here and equipped it for you to learn any trade of your choice while here”.

Archbishop Okeke noted that Christmas is a reminder to the people of God on how God planned to save mankind through Jesus Christ, dwelling extensively on the tribulations and sufferings of parents of Jesus Christ to save Him from the hand of King Herod.

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He said King Herod killed all male Child in attempt to kill Jesus Christ, saying that Nobody can frustrate God’s plan.

“If you are doing God’s will and seeking His face, no power can frustrate plan of God in you. What remains is to struggle to do the will of God and if you do the will of God, nobody will kill you. You must survive the winter of the world, but you will do the will of God. Be a light in the world in whatever you are doing” Archbishop Okeke declared

In his remarks,The Anambra state Controller, of Nigerian Correctional Service, Joseph Usifo noted that Onitsha Correctional Centre has become a reference point in the Nigerian Prison system owing to the innovative interventions of Archbishop Okeke.

Usifo said the Archbishop through the donation of the multi million naira skill acquisition centre for the inmates where they now learn computer skills, tailoring, barbing and other skills has set a pace in the entire Correctional centres in Nigeria as the inmates of Onitsha now have the opportunity to be properly rehabilitated while their stay lasts in the centre through the skills acquisition, educational facilities and conducive cell environment all made possible by the Archbishop.

He also congratulated the Archbishop for getting the Federal Government approval for Shanahan University, Onitsha which he appealed for collaboration for the inmates university education in the institution when it becomes fully operational as such will be more convenient for the Onitsha inmates instead of the National Open University located in Abagana Awka axis which the inmates access presently.

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Usifo said the honour of Grand Patron of the Nigerian Correctional Centre given to Archbishop Okeke recently during the commissioning of the skills acquisition centre is not enough to compare his achievements in the Correctional Centre.

Responding, Archbishop Okeke said the request for such study arrangement for the inmates at Shanahan University is doable noting that Shanahan University would be the one of the best University in the Nigerian when fully made operational and still be affordable to the average Nigerian instead of the exclusive preserve of the rich or elites in the society.

Appreciating his guests, the Chaplain of St. Maximilian Kolbe Chaplaincy, Onitsha Correctional Center, Rev. Fr. Bartholomew Okpalaugo also poured accolades to the Archbishop who he called Big Daddy for his tremendous achievements in the Correctional Center.

Among the items which Archbishop Okeke donated to the inmates for the Christmas included; Christmas Cake, 10 bags of cooked rice and one cow slaughtered, assorted tissue paper, Laundry soaps, Cabin Biscuits, Various cartons of soft drinks as well as one life cow .

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