How Kirikiri Prison helped us become company owners, ex-inmates reveal
• PFN fetes inmates’ families in Lagos
Two ex-inmates of Kirikiri Prison, Lagos State, James Etuk and Olawale Dada, have said the carpentry skills they acquired during their incarceration resulted in their becoming joint-owners of a furniture company. The duo, who spoke on vocational skill acquisition for youths, said prisons across the country should be rehabilitated to meet contemporary demands.
The joint-owners of Alpha Furniture Works Limited, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos that their combined seven years sojourn at Kirikiri Prison were not wasted. Etuk, who was imprisoned for petty stealing and shoplifting in 1987 and spent four years at Kirikiri Prison, said the facility at that time was far better than now.He also lamented the recurrence of jailbreaks in the country, blaming the administrators of facilities for their nonchalance and inhumane disposition. He said: “Then, while in prison, our mindset was daily focused on what we could engage ourselves in after leaving the yard that will enable us re-integrate well into the society.
“Because of the good handling of the place by the administrators, the thought of jailbreak was not in any inmate’s mind. I improved on the carpentry skills I acquired, through observation and reading through furniture works albums to meet up with the current trend.”Dada, the co-owner of the furniture company, on his part said: “I spent three years in prison. I was in the same cell with Etuk and we were pardoned at the same time. So we began to practice what we were taught in the prison at construction sites at Festac.”
Dada said it was after working at various sites for two years that they were able to pool their resources together and rented a shop at Agboju Market in Lagos, where they made furniture for supply to sellers at Alaba International Market.
Meanwhile, no fewer than 30 families attended the end of the year party held by the Prison Fellowship Nigeria (PFN) at Tinubu Square in Lagos under the auspices of its Angel Tree Programme (ATP).
At the event held at Methodist Church of the Trinity, Tinubu Square, the ATP coordinator, Olaka James Endy, said PFN held the event to make members of families of inmates feel at home. He said when a father is imprisoned or put in prison custody, it is the wife and children who suffer.
“The family suffers, school fees can no longer be paid, dreams shatter or die. But we are here to encourage you; put smiles on your faces and show you that we care,’’ he added.
PFN Lagos Chairman, Rev John Olawepo, urged the families to be strong in their faith. He said: ‘’There is no one without a challenge. At times when there is a challenge, your family or friend may abandon you. We are brothers and sisters. Whatever is your problem, we are here to give it a solution,’’ adding that a little love shown the family members would go a long way to ameliorate their situation.