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Recognising quintessential correctional officer, Tunde Ladipo

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Ladipo

Recently, there was a great gathering of people in the courtyard of the Nigerian Correctional Services, Lagos State Command Headquarters, Alagbon, Ikoyi. The crowd was made up of both officials, serving and retired, various stakeholders, NGOs, representatives of international agencies, family and friends. All came from far and near for the special event that took place there.

The man in question, Mr. Tunde Ladipo, was the immediate past Controller of the Lagos State Command. The occasion was the “Send forth” party organized to show appreciation for his impactful and innovative activities while heading the Lagos Command and also to celebrate his elevation to the position of Assistant Controller General, Abuja. It was unprecedented for someone still in service not going on retirement to be so celebrated. Why did this happen? It was to show appreciation for all his excellent, untiring and exemplary performance while in office in Lagos State. It was also to commend and encourage him to make as much impact in his new appointment in Abuja.

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Mr. Tunde Olatunbosun Ladipo who everybody calls Tunde Ladipo is not only the epitome of a correctional officer but a man that has the milk of human kindness, oozing from his personality. The first thing that strikes one on meeting him is his humility, attentiveness, and diligence. A very approachable, hard-working officer, who from observation seems to work round the clock. He is not the typical 8.00a.m to 4.00p.m civil servant. One would think he works 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, every moment of his life, he lives for the inmates in the penal institutions directly under his command, always going about how to improve their welfare and rehabilitation with the meager resources provided by the federal government.

He has always been among those so concerned for reforms to come to the Nigerian Penal System. As gentle as he is he does not condone any act of indiscipline from his staff who regard him as their team leader by example and one who equally cares for their welfare, as he does for the inmates.

He is singled out for his dedication and commitment to his duties because frankly, he has been performing as a correctional officer rather than acting in the mold of the old school punitive “prison warder”.

His activities in the various positions he’s held in the last 10 years or so, reflect kindness for those languishing in incarceration in overcrowded prisons. He engages in dialogue with the State Government and its agencies whose actions are largely contributing to the terrible congestion as well as stakeholders for their collaboration and support in ameliorating the adverse conditions of the subjects under his Command.

The last few years saw quite a number of radical actions during his tenure as Controller of Prisons, Lagos State Command. He was very active on many fronts. One of his campaign to get the state to adopt alternatives to custodial sentencing of minor offenses such as infractions on their environmental laws which overpopulates the facilities with those unable to pay fines demanded by state agencies causing a myriad of problems such as feeding, health, and sanitation as well as restiveness. He got the state (which has no responsibilities for the running of the prisons that are Federal Government-owned), even if they couldn’t change their laws, to at least, adopt alternatives to imprisonment, introducing community services and mediation, alternative dispute resolution ADR, such that Lagos State was the only state where non-custodial sentencing took effect before the new Act of Nigeria Correctional Services 2019, became a reality.

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He went as far as going around the prisons to effect the release of minors whom police had falsified the ages just to have them imprisoned. He solicited the support of various stakeholders and philanthropists to pay the fines of those awaiting trial for minor offences. Quite a number of humanitarian and philanthropist came to his aid contributing the financial resource as well as time engaging together in the arduous exercise of interviewing each Awaiting Trial Persons (ATPs) to effect the release of thousands of them.

He actively engaged with all the stakeholders creating a platform to meet regularly with non-governmental and humanitarian organizations carrying out the various voluntary activities in his command to iron out differences, to rub minds on challenges facing the prisons in the Lagos State formation and together find solutions to them, including the campaign for the reforms of the penal system.

The creation of the Controller Prison Services Stakeholders Forum was his brainchild. For the first time, stakeholders could interface directly with the Controller to report anomalies they sometimes face while on visitation to carry out their various activities. He created a platform where grievances, differences could be resolved most times with immediate effect. It also enabled him to garner support for improvements in the prisons and for enabling the rehabilitation programmes.

It was a masterstroke by him to foster a good relationship and greater cooperation between the administration and stakeholders. The action was deliberate to get stakeholders intervention where the government fell short. This is so much so that many philanthropic individuals and charitable organizations are sponsoring many programmes for the reformative, rehabilitation and resettlement of inmates in the educational (both scholastic and vocational skills training) in counseling, recreational in sports and physical education, creative arts, entertainment, and enterprise. The Command has produced many graduates from the Open University (NOUN) Program with first degrees, there are graduates with postgraduate degrees such as Masters and PhDs, also the best A candidates nationwide came from the Lagos State Command, this due mainly to the high intervention of non-governmental organizations.

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Tunde Ladipo could be described to be representing the new cadre of correctional officers professional to the core who are well-read, graduates from tertiary institutions who received training at home and abroad. They are officers who are professionally trained in various relevant disciplines and undergone further training in the course of their careers. As a result, the Services has recruited graduates in the fields of social psychology, counseling, law, occupational therapy, physical education, medical personnel, and law. These new crop of professionals are increasing. In the last two decades, one has witnessed the old brigade nicknamed or referred to as ‘prison warders’ with the typical attitude of punitive jailers have drastically reduced to a negligible level being phased out due to retirement, while the new staff of enlightened professionals like our subject gradually taking over to undertake correctional work.

This trend must be intensified; that is, the employment of professionals and re-training of staff, for the Nigerian Correctional Services’ human capacity build-up to be successful in facing the old and new challenges posed by the new Act.

Tunde Ladipo represents this new breed of professionals in the service and many like him who are working tirelessly, even going so far to put in personal resources, even their salaries just to ensure well-being and peace to their subjects; like when an inmate has to undergo emergency medicare outside the prison walls, or for their feeding and renovation of facilities.

It is true there are some bad eggs in the Service, it is also true there are honest dedicated men and women like him. He represents the professional commitment of many people: comptrollers, directors, controllers, deputy controllers, wardens, and various staff, men and women committed to improve the system and to treat the inmates with respect and humanity, especially where it touches on the quest for speedy justice and welfare. Tunde Ladipo has also distinguished himself as a detribalized Nigerian in every sense of the word.

Tunde Olatunbosun Ladipo was born on January 11, 1962, in Kaduna to the family of late Chief S.L. Ladipo (JP) and Mrs. Ladipo. He attended Government Primary School, Gombe, and Government Secondary School, Makarfi, Zaria in Kaduna State. He proceeded to The Polytechnic Ibadan for his Higher School Certificate (HSC) and gained admission into the University of Ibadan where he obtained of Bachelor’s Degree in History and Political Science. He also obtained a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from Ladoke Akintola University of Technology, Ogbomoso.

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He enlisted into the Nigerian Prisons Service in October 1989 as an Assistant Superintendent of Prisons (ASP) and rose to his present rank of an Assistant Controller General of Prisons (ACG) in April 2019. Within the period, he served in various commands of the service where he not only gained experience; he excelled in all his duties.

Also, he served as the officer in charge of the following prisons namely: Abeokuta Prisons 2007, Ilesa Prison, 2012 and Medium Security Prison, Kirikiri Lagos, 2012. Upon his promotion to the post of Controller of Prisons (CP), he was appointed the commandant, Prison Training College, Kirikiri in 2015. He was the immediate Past Controller of Prisons Lagos State Command 2017-2019. He was recently promoted to the position of Assistant Controller General of Prisons in charge of supplies at the National Headquarters, Abuja.

Before now and the promulgation of the Act establishing Nigerian Correctional Service, Tunde Ladipo was in all act and practice, a dedicated compassionate correctional officer, who with boldness undertook many initiatives and pursuits which have now been enshrined in the new Act.


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