By Collins Yakubu-Hammer
The Shaimes Unusual Hearts Foundation has facilitated the release of five inmates from the Suleja Medium Security Custodial Centre in Niger.
This is contained in a statement issued by the NGO’s Programme Director, Mr Shedrack Okah, on Monday in Abuja.
Okah said that facilitating the inmates’ release was part of the foundation’s legacy project, to mark the birthday of its founder, Mrs Sara Abdul.
He explained that the gesture was also informed by the founder’s love and compassion for the less privileged, especially those who were in custody for bailable offences.
“The motivation behind this humanitarian service to prisoners is the story behind Abdul because of the experience she had in her childhood when somebody very close to her was wrongly accused and sent to prison.
“After that unfortunate development, she promised to always look into the affairs of inmates when she grew up. Now she is doing just that.
“Abdul believes that not all the inmates are guilty and that was her reason for establishing the NGO for welfare and integration of inmates into society, “ Okah said.
Okah said the NGO had a series of activities and this particular one has been named Founder’s Day to mark Abdul’s birthday on Aug.12 every year.
“This is when she facilitates the release of petty criminals and builds their capacity via skill acquisition and also empowers them with something to prevent them from going back to prison again,” Okah said.
According to him, the foundation has different layers of activities, adding that this was just the first step which facilitated their release from the correctional centre.
Okah explained that the next layer would be to rehabilitate them in conjunction with some sister NGOs giving them good healthcare services based on needs.
“We also establish them to make sure they are busy, we do check on them every two months, quarterly and every year,” he said.
The statement also quoted the Assistant Comptroller of Corrections, Mr Ali Dayyabu Ali, as commending Shamies Foundation for its initiative of empowering the less privileged.
Ali called on other NGOs to key into what Shamies Foundation was doing in the area of releasing prisoners, adding that the foundation had also contributed a lot in the aspect of educating inmates.
“We have inmates from secondary school to university level. We also have a vocational centre where we train some inmates in tailoring, and shoe and bag making, among other things.
“When Shamies came here they paid for the bail of five inmates and promised to rehabilitate, establish and reintegrate them into the society,” Ali said.
The statement also quoted one of the released inmates, (name withheld) as saying, “it is only God that will help and bless the foundation.
“They came to my life at the point of my need and God will meet them at the point of their needs. May God continues to bless them,” she said.