Prison Farms In Nigeria: A Gold Mine
Sometime in 2016 I had need to carry out some academic research. While I mused, I settled for a topic that will focus on prison inmates. I made further inquiries so I could tailor the study to my area of specialization (agriculture) and found that, there are prison farms in Nigeria.
While I further consulted in the bid to assemble a research team, a good number of those I reached out to were agog. They did not know neither were informed that there were prison farms in Nigeria. We visited Ozalla and Ibite Olo prison farms in Edo and Enugu States respectively.
In the end I discovered many Nigerians are more acquainted with the maximum, medium and minimum categories of the Nigerian Prison Service.
As contained in the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, there are eight (8) categories of prison.
Maximum Security Prison
Prisoners under sentence of death or life imprisonment; person convicted of murder, armed robbery, smuggling, arson and rape. Persons detained for offenses punishable with death or life imprisonment of three years and above for theft, fraud or embezzlement; habitual criminals; repeated escapists.
Medium Security Prison
Persons sentenced to imprisonment for pick pocketing, shoplifting, assault and battery.
Minimum Security Prison
Debtors and other civil offenders.
Female prisoners of all classes.
Open Prison or Prison Farm Centre
Well behaved prisoners of any class on recommendation by the Director-General/Comptroller General.
Remand and Detention
Persons on remand; un-convicted persons awaiting trial persons sentenced to imprisonment of three months or below.
All classes of civil and criminal lunatics.
The fundamental objective of the prison farms is to train inmates in agro-based vocations. Agriculture and its activities in Nigeria prisons have the potentials to be the industrial and economic springboard from which inmates take off when their jail term is completed because of the multifunctional nature of agriculture.
Although the primary objective of the farms is essentially to train inmates as stated above, the mechanized farm is capital intensive so much so that these farms are not only expected to generate commensurate revenue, they are expected to impact positively on the food situation in the country, by making cheap food available to the national economy.
As at mid-2016, there are twelve (12) major farm centres, nine (9) subsidiary farms, one hundred and twenty-four (124) market gardens under the control of the Nigerian prison service.
In the old times, the purpose of imprisonment was punishment, and no one cared about the living conditions of the prisoners inside the four walls of the prison neither did people care about the relationship between the prison conditions of inmates and their post-jail life behaviours. However, the new thinking about the role of the prisons have departed from punishment qua punishment, and concentrates on reform, reorientation, rehabilitation, reintegration and empowerment of inmates so that they can reject criminal life, acquire new and relevant knowledge and skills, earn some money while in prison working in its farms and industries.
Within this context of new thinking, psychologists, medical doctors, social workers, researchers, religious institutions (teaching ethics, morality and Godly ways to inmates) teachers and spiritual workers, work with correctional/prisons officials to turn inmates into better, law abiding, patriotic, productive and useful citizen who readily reintegrates into the free society on discharge.
By this awareness, I kindly appeal to NGOs, benevolent Nigerians whose pet projects and initiatives centre on agriculture as well as things that will benefits inmates in these farms to locate the nearest prison farm. Seek ways to assist inmates and management of these facilities to achieve their objectives effortlessly.