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At what was marking the close of the Attitudinal and Behavioural Change (ABC) Secretariat’s tour of communities and institutions within the Northern Region of Sierra Leone quite recently, the Port Loko Prisons, as compared to their counterparts across the length and breadth of the country, unequivocally impressed the Secretariat’s top executives to a point that they made a clarion call on other government outfits to emulate the Port Loko Prisons. (Photo:The prison officer with a difference, Mrs. Adam T Conteh, OC, Port Loko Prisons)
The visiting team which comprised of the Executive Director, National Coordinator and Second-in-Command, Program Manager and Northern Region Coordinator of ABC Secretariat among others were Dr. Ivan Ajibola Thomas, Madam Nanette Thomas, Mr. Ishmael Cole and Mr. Daniel Sara Turay respectively who were at the Port Loko Prisons to sensitize the Prisons Officers on the theme ‘Relevance of Positive Attitudes and Behaviours to National Development’ in their respective statements observed that amidst the usual insufficient financing institutions complained of, the Port Loko Prisons has over the years confronted theirs with a worthy entrepreneurship to live to the expectations of being a contemporary example to the challenging justice system’s closing stage.
Apart from their neatly uniformity, healthy disposition and dutifulness the ABC Secretariat were amazed by the readiness to attend their lectures which they said could not be dissociated from the discipline Mrs. Adama Tony Conteh is instilling in them. As such the ABC Secretariat’s visiting team was quick to advocate for the assigning of more women as institutional heads in the country.
In serving the purpose of the ABC Secretariat’s visit Dr. Ivan Ajibola Thomas and Madam Nanette Thomas, who have both served as former Prisoners-Of-Conscience, attributed the successes and enviable status of the Port Loko Prisons to the managerial proficiencies of its Officer- In- Charge, Mrs. Adama Tony Conteh, who they classed as a fine officer that should serve as a role model not only for her colleagues, but for other well-meaning citizens to emulate. Extensively Dr. Thomas and Madam Thomas noted that the Officer-In-Charge has not done this remarkable feat lonely, and therefore gave a standing ovation to the officers who under the command of Mrs. Adama Tony Conteh have resisted temptations to defy her unwavering disciplines aimed at transforming Port Loko Prisons from a Hell to an earthly Heaven where prisoners can be positively changed so that they would be beneficial to themselves and equally contribute to national development after serving their jail terms.
It could be recalled that despite being a signatory to Human Rights and Democratic Conventions reports about the status of most prisons in Sierra Leone have been damn appalling. Adding to the uncountable prison breaks, sexual harassment and physical assaults of prisoners, serving of unhygienic meals, confiscation of prisoners’ personal effects and grave segregations which Dr. Thomas and Madam Thomas outlined as attitudes and behaviours that are normally professed by Prisons Officers, they added that the illegal exportation of harmful weapons and barred drugs into prisons is now the order of the day. The top gurus of ABC Secretariat denounced these happenings which they attributed to unprofessionalism and pointed out has led to the public’s poor perception about the Sierra Leone Prisons Department.
And although they were informed that the Port Loko Prisons has over the years been awarded as the best constituent of the Sierra Leone Prisons Department, Dr. Ivan Agibola Thomas and Madam Nanette Thomas advised the officers present to renounce these awful acts and avoid hinging their occurrences to their alleged poor conditions of service. With the impending November 17th , 2012 Presidential, Parliamentary and Local Government elections fast approaching they officers were cautioned to be apolitical as their conducts like other state security institutions’ personnel will determine the free and fairness of these elections.
While Dr. Thomas classed the officers’ role as one of the eschatology’s thrust in the Holy Bible, Madam Thomas emphasized that since state prisons serve as major components of the most relied upon justice system prisons officers in the conduct of their sacred duties should try to be courageous, understanding and patient. Madam Thomas ended by advising the officers to put up consciousness, acceptance and practicability while discharging their duties.
Responding he Officer-In-Charge of Port Loko Prisons, Mrs. Adama Tony Conteh thanked the ABC Secretariat for extending their nationwide sensitization to her institution which according to her is battling the lack of transport facilities and the upgrading of assigned officers’ academic qualifications to maintain the status of a reputable Regional Prisons Department in the country. She encouraged the Secretariat to be relentless in their sensitization of the inhabitants of Sierra Leone, more so the citizens, whom she said have taken the manifestation of bad deeds and manners as a way of life. She concluded by calling on her officers to make good use of the ABC Secretariat’s sensitization as according to her none of them can enjoy the fruits of their profession, which she described as challenging, by maintaining poor attitudes and behaviours.
By Momoja Lappia
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