Mrs Ndidi Mezue who is the Commissioner for Social Welfare, Children and Women Affairs said this while receiving a piece of property donated for the purpose by Umunze Progressive Union through its President General, Mr John Akanyeonu.
Speaking during the formal handover of the property in Umunze, Mrs Mezue appreciated the community for providing the site. She also appreciated the European Union for its Rule of Law and Anti-Corruption Programme (RoLAC) which initiated the process of securing the property while assuring them that the government would play its role in the partnership that would see to the development of the site to a functional correction centre.
She disclosed that the ministry would commence clearing of the bush in the site and building a fence around it. She also said that she would involve other state ministries that would play a role in the development of the physical structure; the ministries of health and education, and set up a committee that would develop a plan for the development of the centre and forward their report to the governor for implementation.
Mezue said that the correction facility would provide a proper place for rehabilitating minors who are picked up on the streets or found guilty of crime by the court of law.
“Before now, we have been having issues with where to keep young ones who have been found guilty of crimes or picked on the street. We used to put them in our orphanage at Awka but it is not enough. So, we really appreciate the people of Umunze for donating this place and we will make the best of it.
Earlier while introducing the process, the state programme coordinator of RoLAC, Josephine Onah, said that the initiative was part of European Union programme which includes advocating for the rights of children, women and the disabled.
She said that it was during an interactive session with Presidents-general of various communities in Anambra State that she sensitized the communities on the need to provide land for building a correction centre in the state in order to properly attend to those minors who are found guilty of transgressing the laws of the land.
“We made this call last year during a JONAPWD programme, and the President-general of Umunze, Mr John Akanyeonu came back home and convinced his people to donate this land for the project.
“We brought our consultant who, after studying the land, came up with a recommendation that the place was suitable for the centre.
“We are here to broker a partnership with the PG, the state government in order to see to the establishment and functioning of the correction centre which will be the first of its kind in the south-east.”
On his part, the RoLAC consultant, Dr Ifediora Orakwe said that he approved of the place because it is located away from the urban area of the town which is serene and suitable for learning. He said that the place would be a school and skill acquisition centre for the minors who might have committed crime as a result of peer pressure and could be easily rehabilitated to become functional members of the society.
On his part, the PG of the community said that the community resolved to donate the piece of land because it supports the development strides of Governor Willie Obiano’s administration. He also opined that the community expects the structure to provide job opportunities for Umunze youths.
He disclosed that the piece of land has a storey building which used to be the town hall of the community as well as a skill acquisition centre.