By Sumaila Ogbaje
The Nigerian Correctional Service (NCoS), Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Command, has engaged inmates at the Kuje Custodian Centre in sporting activities as part of efforts to reform their minds.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the sporting activities featured football, Badminton, Table Tennis, Volley Ball among others and sponsored by the Legend Golden Care Foundation under its ‘Beyond the Wall Initiative’.
The Chairman of the foundation, Mr Olisa Metuh, said the decision to sponsor sporting competition in Kuje centre was based on his experience as a onetime inmate at the centre.
Metuh said that he founded the “Beyond the Wall Initiative” to cater for people who were in correctional facilities by training them and prepare them for the life outside the wall.
Metuh added that the foundation also provided free legal aid to the inmate that could not afford legal representation.
“The foundation is assembling the biggest pro bono association or assistance ever in the history of this country and we have just started.
“We want to make sure that people who cannot afford proper legal presentation are given good lawyers to help them.
“But for today, we are here because of this competition.
“I want first of all to commend the Federal Government for creating the enabling environment and the atmosphere for sports to thrive in correctional facilities.
“My own experience has proven that this government indeed has been paying good attention to the correctional facilities and they have put in place lots of programmes and policies to ensure that the people that being kept here are well prepared to be able to face the world outside.
“So, I commend the government, the ministry of interior as well as the minister and the controller of correction in FCT,” he said.
Metuh said that the sport events would positively affect the psych of the inmates, saying that when he was there, he noticed that preparation for the competition was always heated.
According to him, a lot of debates, a lot of activities, they programme themselves, they form groups and associations.
“One, it help them to exercise because when you are here the most important thing is for you to exercise your body and free your spirit.
“If your spirit is inside this wall here it is imprisoned and it will affect your health and psyche and affect you as a human being.
“But if your spirit is transported and transformed to different place then you will be focused.
“So, these sports activities helped them to free their spirits.
“It is a very good programme and we have decided to be the sponsor of this year’s edition but I want to announce that our foundation wants to make this an annual competition in Kuje facility.
“We are working out to assist and sponsor a sports festival being organised by the FCT command for the entire facilities under the command sometimes in November,” he added.
Metuh however, urged the inmates to be good to one another and also sit away from crimes whenever they go out of the centre.
The Controller of Corrections, Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Command, Mr Abdul-Rahman Maiyaki, said the sports events were parts of the correctional programmes designed to assist the inmates.
Maiyaki said the programmes were in stages towards handing out proper reformation, rehabilitation and reintegration of inmates, adding that sport was one of the programmes.
According to him, it is a part of implementing the Nigerian correctional circuit where we have catering services, psychological services, medical services and recreational service.
“Sports is part of the recreational service and in proper correctional programming, we use sports to ensure that the spirits of the inmates are relieved and free.
“We also use it to build up their physique and physical body for them to be healthy at every point in time.
“They are kept in the cell and some of them may not be used to that kind of environment, but if they go out to exercise their bodies will enable them to feel relieved and their spirits will fly high.
“They are engaged in both indoor and outdoor sporting activities but for now, this sport is for Kuje Custodian centre and we plan to expand it to all the facilities within FCT,” he said.
The controller disposed that the sporting activities would help to shape the aspirations of the inmates that would help them to be focused whenever they regain their freedom.
One of the inmates, who emerged as the best player of the tournament, Anikan Sunday, said that his confinement in the custodian centre had helped him to rediscover himself through football.
Sunday, who is popularly known as the “Controller” on the pitch played for the FC Barcelona team which emerged winner of the competition in the centre.
He said that the sporting activities had lifted his spirit and those of other inmates, adding that he was going to focus better when he got his freedom.
According to him, there were many sponsors willing to sponsor his football career immediately he regains his freedom.
NAN reports that while FC Barcelona team won the football competition, Arsenal came second, Manchester United came third and Chelsea came fourth and each of the team was presented with cash gift by Olisa Metuh. (NAN)