Eleven prisoners at the Enugu Custodial Special Study Centre have graduated from the National Open University of Nigeria, NOUN while 50 fresh students matriculated at a ceremony in Enugu.
At the 12th Convocation and Matriculation Ceremony held at the centre on Thursday, the Controller of Corrections in Enugu State, Mr Nicholas Obiakor charged the students, who are inmates, to ensure that their higher education and academic discipline are reflected in all they do.
Obiakor, represented by an Assistant Controller of Corrections, Mr James Abonyi appreciated the Controller General, CG of Corrections, Mr Haliru Nababa, for providing the platform and enabling environment for educational reformation and transformation of inmates.
He noted that educational attainment and pursuit remained the best thing any inmate would want to achieve, especially as it is done at no cost to the inmate as far as he or she indicates interest and commitment.
“I want to commend our amiable CG for turning this correctional centre from a punitive ground to a place of exceptional reformation that is an envy of all as highly educationally-qualified students are churned up here yearly.
“I want to appreciate the Commander-in-Chief and the President, who through NOUN, has provided a free-of-charge learning platform for all inmates wishing to enroll for university education as well as non-governmental organisations, foundations and individuals that have supported inmates’ education.
“For our students, I want you to take advantage of this golden opportunity to get to the top and be the best in your chosen academic endeavour, even as I urge you to shun vices and examination malpractices but be highly focused”, he said.
Issuing out the degree certificates to the graduating students, the Vice-Chancellor of NOUN, Prof. Olufemi Peters congratulated both the graduating and matriculating students for choosing a path that “will guaranty their future in the society”.
Peters, represented by the National Coordinator for All Special Study Centres, Mrs Modupe Adesina, said that 66 inmates from different custodial centres in the country graduated this year with Enugu Custodial Special Study Centre having 11.
He charged them to take the advantage of the opportunity provided by the Federal Government, through NOUN, by taking their academic pursuit to the Doctorate Degree level without paying a dime.
“It is clear that with your academic reforms and higher educational attainment, you future is very bright and the sky is your starting point for your greatness and exploits in life when you leave here”, Peters said.
Deputy Controller of Corrections, Mr Kelvin Iloafonsi congratulated the students, adding that “gaining admission into NOUN is a no mean feat, especially for someone in incarceration”.
Iloafonsi, who is the Educational Desk Officer of NOUN at the Enugu Custodial Special Study Centre, noted that “NOUN is the only University in Nigeria where you cannot cut corners to be admitted because admission is done online with due process and procedures.
“Matriculating students should shun all forms of social vices such as cultism, robbery, kidnapping, fraud and nefarious activities which can mar their bright future when you regain your freedom because it brings absolutely nothing but destruction and annihilation,” he advised.
Iloafonsi appreciated the CG of Corrections, Mr Nababa, for making the programme possible and providing educational reformation platform for inmates and the Vice-Chancellor of NOUN Prof. Peters, for approving special study centres and instituting tuition-free academic pursuits.
“Our warmest regards to the Isaac Blessing Foundation, CAPIO and all our partnering NGOs. We owe great thanks to Enugu NOUN Centre Director, Prof. Alexander Onyia, and the National Coordinator for All Special Study Centres, Mrs Modupe Adesina.
“We also want to appreciate the Correctional Service Special Study Centre Director, Mr Francis Enobore, for his guidance and support”, he said.
One of the graduates, Mr Eze Utama, commended the Federal Government, the CG of Corrections, Mr Nababa, and Vice-Chancellor of NOUN, Prof. Peters, for providing quality education free-of-charge at their door-steps and taking special interest in their reformation.
The highlights of the event were the oath taking by matriculating students, which was administered by Enugu NOUN Centre Director, Prof. Onyia, represented by Mr Matthew Egede; cutting of the convocation and matriculation cake and cultural displays.