Ja'afaru Ahmed, the Journey So Far Date: 2018/11/12
Ja’afaru Ahmed, emerged as the 9th Controller General of Prisons on the 16th day of May, 2016. This onerous responsibility fell on the Kebbi born Senior Officer at a time when the Nigerian Prisons Service was battling with a number of challenges, which were quite glaring to stakeholders in the Justice sector as well as the general public.
To hit the ground running, CGP Ja’afaru Ahmed in his Inaugural Address stated in clear terms how his administration will combat the myriad of challenges and reposition the Service to enviable heights.
CATALOGUE OF ACHIEVEMENTS:
1. Restoration of Discipline: Discipline which should be the watchword for every officer was at its lowest ebb, hence the directive to all Command Officers to expedite action on all disciplinary cases. This directive is further demonstrated in the strict disciplinary actions taken against officers found guilty after due diligence. The move has re-awakened the consciousness of all personnel to maintain the highest level of discipline.
2. Security: Security in the Prison Yards has improved significantly as a result of pragmatic leadership, proper deployment of personnel, synergy with sister security agencies etc This and other strategies have heralded the reduction in the incidences of jail breaks, escapes and riots in the prison.
3. Reformation of Inmates: As part of the cardinal objectives of the Nigerian Prisons Service, reformation of inmates has always maintained a position of priority. Under the current administration, more inmates have been able to actualise their dream of having quality education while in incarceration. The Service has sustained a fruitful partnership with the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN) which has increased the number of Study Centres across prison formations. Furthermore, a synergy with the Joint Admission and Matriculation Board (JAMB) has earned the Service a fully equipped JAMB examination centre at Borstal Training Institute Kaduna. Adult Literacy classes, Senior And junior WAEC and NECO, as well as NABTEB are part of the educational package for inmates.
On the other hand, additional vocational workshops were built and old ones revamped, across Prison formations. This has significantly raised the tempo of vocational skill acquisition among inmates. Under this administration, several inmates discharged as proficient tradesmen in sundry vocations like welding, weaving, masonry, furniture, tailoring, barbing etc . On discharge, the After Care Unit of the Prisons issues start-up tools to selected skilled inmates for proper integration and economic empowerment.
4. Infrastructural Upgrade: The quantum of infrastructural upgrade witnessed in the last 18months is unprecedented. Building of entirely new prisons, new cells in old prisons where space allows, renovation of old cells etc. have helped to douse the congestion problem in most prisons in urban centres. The construction and renovation of prison walls and perimeter fences has enhanced safety and security in and around the prisons.
5. Logistics: In 2017, the Service procured and distributed 219 Court duty vehicles to facilitate the production of awaiting trial persons in court as and when due. This has resulted in speedy dispensation of justice thus, helping to decongest the prisons significantly.
6. Agriculture: Prison Farms, some of which were moribund have witnessed great revival with the pro-active steps taken by CGP Ja’afaru. First and foremost, the service through increased budgetary provision purchased and distributed 22 New Tractors and their accompanying implements to selected farm centre for greater cultivation and yield. Building of new farm structures for livestock production, piggery, and fishery has resuscitated the farms and enhanced the training of inmates in plant and livestock production. In a bid to attain a level of agricultural production where the prisons will be able to generate substantial food supply required for inmates, the service has carefully selected three farms to engage in farming activities on the basis of specialty and comparative advantage. They are: Kujama in Kaduna state for maize; Lakushi in Plateau state for rice and Ozalla in Edo state for palm oil. This has boosted farm operations a great deal.
7. Robust Healthcare: One of the secrets of maintaining Peace and Calm within and around the prisons is to make basic health care accessible to inmates, a policy the Ja’afaru led administration places on the front burner. It therefore procured a large cache of assorted drugs and distributed to prison formations across the country. Ambulances were also bought to bring healthcare to the doorstep of Nigerian Prisoners. This has helped to mitigate health complication usually arising from overcrowding prison cells.
8. The unique approach to offenders rehabilitation caught the attention of both regional and global communities hence, the first time since the establishment of the Nigerian Prisons Service in 1861, the Service won four International awards within a year. They are:
(i) Superior Achievement in Branding Reputation and Engineering (SABRE) Award on Public Education – 10th May, 2018 Gaborore, Boswana.
(ii) A Certificate of Excellence on Public Sector Government (Prison Decongestion Tackling the Plight of Awaiting Trial Persons) Awarded by Holmes Report – Gaborore, Boswana. 10th May, 2018.
(iii)2018 United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) Confucius Prize for Literacy and Skills Development – Paris, France. 7th September, 2018.
(iv) International Public Relations Association (IPRA) Golden World Award (GWA) on Crisis Management for Media Campaign on Prison Decongestion and Plight of Awaiting Trial Inmates – Barcelona, Spain. 19th October, 2018.
9. Capacity Building: This administration has prioritised training and re-training hence, officers have been exposed to series of trainings both within and outside the country. Quite significantly, this administration has introduced new courses to cover different prison schedules for the purpose of specialty. These include, Drivers and Orderlies course, Welfare Officers Course, Record officers course, Parade Masters course etc
10. Staff Welfare: Staff Morale has been very high as a result of different motivational packages. Since the appointment of Ja’afaru Ahmed as CGP about 15,000 Officers and Men have been promoted, some of which were stagnated for up to 15years on one rank. New barracks and offices have been built in a number of formations and some existing barracks and offices have been renovated to keep officers and men in high spirit. In addition, the Prison Welfare and Insurance Scheme, Prisons Microfinance Bank and Prisons Multipurpose Cooperative society have been well repositioned to give respite to members while in service and at retirement.
11. Inter-Agency Synergy: The present administration has facilitated, maintained and encouraged positive partnerships with sister security agencies, public and private organisations, as well as Non-Governmental Organisations. This singular gesture has facilitated the achievement of the statutory mandate of the Service and has also given the same, the avenue to interact freely.
12. OVERCOMING CONGESTION: To solve the problem of congestion in the Nigerian Prisons, the service recently had a Ground Breaking ceremony of a 3000 capacity prison at Janguza in Kano State, same project is expected to be replicated in the other five geo-political zone of the Country.