Seventy-five inmates of the Nigerian Correctional Service, Ibara Maximum Security Custodial Centre, Old Abeokuta, Ogun State, have become Ministers of God after bagging Diploma certificates in Theology.
It was gathered that the inmates have undergone a six-month training at the seminary, geared towards reforming and rehabilitating them.
The programme had the combined efforts of other Ministers of God who repeatedly visited the yard to teach the graduating students.
At the graduation ceremony held within the premises of the custodial centre, the National Director of the project, Dr Olamide Emmanuel, said the event was an effort to reform and rehabilitate criminated minds.
“We combined efforts with some men of God to work at the custodial centre here. We have about 75 of them who have distinguished themselves to serve God. Some of them have been released and they have started work outside. The programme is in three stages and it’s already a year today.
“We discovered that many leave this place destitutely with nothing to fall back on. They are castigated outside, they are stigmatised. But, through the help of Ministers of God, we built their psyche so that they will know this is not the end of life, better things are there for them outside,” he said.
Dr Emmanuel disclosed that the third stage of the programme would produce graduates with Bachelor’s degrees in Theology, saying, “We have those who are qualified for that already.”
The Deputy Controller of Corrections, Oshin Bamidele, who is in charge of the Ibara Maximum Security Custodial Centre, held that the duty of correctional officers is to reform, rehabilitate and reintegrate.
“As correctional officers, our mandate is to reform, rehabilitate and reintegrate back into the society. We achieve this through educational programmes and religious activities. These are 75 inmates who have gone through theological school known as seminary. We have seen very radical changes in them,” Oshin said, appreciating the NCoS Controller General, Haliru Nababa for giving them the opportunity to impact the lives of the inmates.
Speaking with newsmen, the Social Welfare Officer of the centre, AbdulAkeem Awesu, said, “Today we are graduating 75 of our Christian inmates who have distinguished themselves in the school of seminary. This programme is under the religious education for the inmates. They will be awarded diploma.”
According to him, the training was not just to train pastors, but for moral modification, spiritual attention and protection
“This goes beyond being a pastor. It has to do with moral modification, spiritual attention and protection, as well as inculcating discipline and the word of God into them. Being a pastor is a thing of choice, but they have undergone process of reformation and rehabilitation. My advice for them is to keep it up,” Awesu said.
In their separate remarks, a male and female graduand (names withheld) explained that they have been reformed spiritually and physically by the training programme, thanking the organisers.
The graduands appealed to youths to give their lives to Christ, saying that is the only way to live a life of holiness and righteousness.
“If you don’t have Jesus in your life, you will be living a life of crisis,” they admonished.
In order not to end up in jail, the inmates advised youths to obey all rules and regulations and accept Jesus as their personal Lord and saviour.