Seven inmates of the Port Harcourt Maximum Correctional Centre, Rivers State, have received certificates after they graduated from the National Open University of Nigeria.
The inmates were part of those who graduated in the 2021/2022 academic session in March this year but were unable to convoke with their counterparts outside, due to incarceration.
Of the seven inmates, two bagged Second Class Upper degrees, while the five others bagged Second Class Lower degrees.
The Registrar, NOUN, Felix Odoka, disclosed this while handing the certificates to the inmates at a brief, but colourful award presentation held at the correctional centre located along Dockyard Road in Rivers State capital.
Edoka said, “Today we are handing over certificates to seven inmates who have graduated from the National Open University of Nigeria. Among this number, we have two inmates that made Second Class Upper. The remaining five made Second Class Lower.
“We want to use this opportunity to appeal to those in incarceration that are yet to fill out our forms to do so. The purpose of getting the university to the correctional centre is to ensure that we provide opportunities for those who want to develop themselves.
“So that by the time you get out of this place, hopefully, there will be no difference between you and those outside. To make this possible, the university is granting this education to you people (inmates) free of charge.”
Earlier, the Deputy Controller of Corrections in charge of Port Harcourt Maximum Correctional Centre, Etim Effiong, said the management was encouraging others inmates to enroll in the university and further their education.
Effiong commended the institution for bringing university education to the facility, saying the condition of the inmates was not a barrier to pursuing their educational dream.
“Your being here is not a barrier. You can be in a facility like ours, you can be in confinement and pursue your educational goals even to doctorate degree levels.
“Not only has NOUN brought this to us here, they facilitate and encourage us and provide all the equipment needed for this to be achieved,” he stated
The deputy controller said preferences were given to inmates who were studying, saying, “I have ordered that those who are in schools should be opened early. I have given them special privileges, including meals.”
On his part, the Deputy Controller of Corrections in charge of human resources, Benson Luck, advised against stigmatising the inmates, saying they needed to be integrated back to society when they would be discharged from the facility.
“Incarceration is not to deny you of the opportunity to be educated. When they are discharged eventually, it is still our duty to reintegrate them into the society.
“If they are have acquired this education and you stigmatise them, there is every tendency that they will draw back.
“They will not give out all that is in them. So I want to pray all of us gathered here to encourage them even within here and outside this place, so that the education they have acquired will actually be beneficial to you and me,” he stated.