The leadership of the Nigerian Prisons Service has revealed that no fewer than 157 inmates serving various jail terms for violent extremism in the country have largely indicated interest in Western Education and vocational studies.
The Controller General of Prisons, Ja’afaru Ahmed stated this at a three-day deradicalisation programme organised by the Service with support from the European Union, while some of these 157 inmates have sat for the West African Examination Council (WAEC) and others are processing their admissions to the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN).
According to him, “Our dear country has unfortunately been plagued with various forms of security challenges; the most worrisome being the Boko Haram elements. The federal government in its commitment to protect lives and properties of citizens being one of the cardinal objectives of governance has deployed numerous strategies to tame the scourge. Although the crisis is not over, it is gladdening to see a steady progress especially in deradicalising violent extremists.”
The Prisons boss said, “The Nigerian Prisons Service has since assumed the onerous task of leading the deradicalisation programme. This programme is not entirely a strange approach, considering the service’s mandate of reforming, rehabilitating and reintegrating deviants into the society. Deradicalisation as an approach, has turned out to be a great window of hope in the midst of devastating circumstances, ensuring that violent extreme offenders desist from their unpatriotic activities using counter narratives to change their ideologies.”
Ja’afru who disclosed that the Service has recorded a significant breakthrough in changing the mindset of the extremists added that about 157 of them in their custody have not only embraced formal education but have sat for the WAEC examination with impressive results. He however added that three of them are now being processed for degree programmes in the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN).
The Controller General who was represented by Deputy Controller General (DCG Covering Duties) in charge of Health and Social Welfare, Mrs Husseina Kori, said the workshop was aimed at strengthening the Nigerian Prisons Service Deradicalisation Programme.
The Prisons boss commended the European Union for providing both financial and technical support for the programme, and urged participants to pay close attention to the presentations and discussions.
In his welcome address, Programme Manager of the Prisons De-radicalization initiative, Dr Ade Yusuf said the European Union had signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Nigeria represented by the Prisons Service, to provide technical support, materials and equipment as well as capacity building to the NPS De-radicalisation Programme, adding that the concept of de-radicalisation in the management of Violent Extremism Offenders is relatively new.