The President of the Republic, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, has reiterated the commitment of his Government to decongesting the prisons across the country.
Speaking at the graduation ceremony of Officer Cadet Course Intake 25 of the Ghana Prisons Service, at the Prisons Officers Training School, on Friday, 9th August 2018, President Akufo-Addo noted that the country’s prisons, built to accommodate some 9,875 inmates, has been exceeded by some 48%.
“Nsawam prisons, for example, was built to house eight hundred and fifty (850) persons. Its current occupancy stands at three thousand, four hundred and fifty (3,450) persons, of which two hundred and twenty-three (223) are remand prisoners. Originally, there was no provision for remand prisoners at Nsawam,” he said.
To this end, President Akufo-Addo told the gathering that “we need to do something about these figures, and my Government is determined to so.”
Following the successes chalked under the Justice for All Programme, the President indicated that the programme is expanding steadily to cover prison facilities such as the Nsawam Medium Security Prison, and to prisons in Tarkwa, Sekondi, Akuse, Obuasi and Winneba.
He indicated that, under the Programme, two projects, namely the construction of a two thousand (2,000) capacity remand prison at Nsawam, and the expansion of residential accommodation for staff at Ankaful Maximum Security Prison, have been started, and will be completed and operationalized soon.
With agriculture continuing to remain the anchor of the country’s economy, President Akufo-Addo was happy with the new focus of the Prisons Service.
“Already, the Service has taken delivery of five tractors, four mechanical planters, and a number of other agricultural equipment to increase the production of cash crops and staples. Also, construction work on a new prison camp in Ejura, in the Ashanti Region, is progressing steadily, and, hopefully, will be handed over to the Prison Administration by the end of this year,” he added.
This, the President said, will help the Prisons Service take advantage of the programme for “Planting for Food and Jobs”, and will also serve the dual purpose of training inmates in modern practices of agricultural production, and also help generate income to supplement government subvention to the Service.
President Akufo-Addo also revealed that the number of medical personnel assigned to the Service has also been increased, and, shortly, all prison infirmaries across the country will be upgraded and adequately resourced.
In addition to providing logistical and infrastructural support to the Service, government, he added, has also given clearance for the recruitment of 1,000 young men and women to augment the staff strength of the Service.
He explained that the media landscape is replete with many examples of persons who become hardened in prison, and are unable to successfully integrate themselves into the society upon their release, and, thus, end up perpetrating criminal acts, which bring them back to prison.
“It is important that we give them the assurance of a better life after prison, by upholding their dignity and human rights. Officers of the Service must, at all times, exhibit high levels of discipline and professionalism in the discharge of their duties,” he added.
President Akufo-Addo urged the country’s security services to guard jealously the peace, security and stability of the nation.
Crime, he said. is becoming more sophisticated and multi-dimensional, and the country cannot win the war against it if the security agencies engage in needless tussles for supremacy.
“Each one of you has a unique mandate towards the maintenance of peace and security of our country. I can assure you also that, under my watch as President of the Republic, the laws of this land will be applied to the letter, and without recourse to the ethnic, religious or political affiliations of the person involved,” he said.
The President continued, “And, to those who are sending chiefs and men of God to the Special Prosecutor to intervene on their behalf, to try to dissuade Mr Martin Amidu from conducting his investigations, from the little I know of the man, they are engaged in a fruitless venture.”
President Akufo-Addo, in concluding, acknowledged the two officer cadets who excelled and distinguished themselves in the course, i.e. the best-all-round officer cadet, Senior-Under-Officer Stephen Kumah, and the best in academic performance, Junior-Under-Officer Mabel Asomaning.
“Their achievements make them the proud and worthy recipients of the Sword of Honour, and the Academic Cane Awards, respectively. On behalf of Government and the people of Ghana, I say a big ayekoo to them,” he added.