It will remain indelible for the families, friends, colleagues and in-mates of Kirikiri, Female Prison Lagos as DCP Ekpendu Lizzie Ba,(Hons), MPA, Msc and other December and January babies in Kirikiri female prisons mark their birthday on the 1st of January 2018 at the Prison premises in Lagos. The much talked about event which was equally a commemoration of Christmas and New Year celebration for the Kirikiri Female prison family was well attended by the who is who in the security sector especially Nigerian Prisons Services giants.
In his sermon during the Opening Mass Rev Fr Tunde Lawrence Alabi Cssp described DCP Ekpendu as a woman of virtue who out of deep spirituality has adopted all in-mates as her children. “She is an iron self disciplined woman, an icon of hospitality, a worthy mother, a celebrity. We celebrate you today with love. May the good Lord continue to accept the sacrifice of life for your career, May his blessings continue to flow in your generation. You have brought joy to those who are in captivity as Jesus Christ puts smiles of the down trodden. May the good Lord appreciate the work of your hand and family amen”.
Addressing the in-mates, he encouraged them that their condition is not the end of life rather it is an opportunity to prepare for what is next in one’s life. “Jesus took his confinement in the womb of a human being in other to change the cause of human history. General Obasanjo left the prison to become President of Nigeria. Nelson Mandele left prison to end apartheid system in South Africa and became the President. Best sellers like the “The man died” by Wole Soyinka and “I have a dream” by Martin Lurther Kings Jr” were written behind prison walls. The question is what are you becoming after you stay here? He concluded.
In a poem presented by the in-mates, DCP Ekpendu was described as Elegant, Brilliant, Trustworthy, Eloquent, Tolerant, Peaceful, Determined, Smart, Diligent, Understanding, Amiable. The apex of the event was the cutting of the cake where the entire celebrants came to take delivery of their cakes. Another touching moment was when the generous Santa Claus appeared and handed gifts to every inmate of Kirikiri Female Prison. It was quite a while before people understood that DCP Ekpendu was the Santa Claus.
The first lady and the mother general of Kirikiri female prison is widely celebrated for her innovative, dynamic, compassionate, motherly affection and divine leadership prowess. I call her “THE WOMAN WITH A DIAMOND HEART”. In the words of Pope John Paul ll “People today put more trust in witnesses than in teachers; in experience than in teaching and the witness of a compassionate heart is the first and irreplaceable form of mission”. Accolades, applauds, ovations and encomium, have been pouring platter –clatter on the desk of Deputy Controller of Prisons (DCP) Lizzie Ekpendu the officer in charge of Kirikiri female prisons Lagos. The first lady of Kirikiri female prison as she was once referred by Thisday Live on the 16th of September 2016 has attracted so many testimonies for the positive changes she has initiated at Kirikiri female prison since her inception as the Controller. Upon resumption, she brought about a kind of psychological balance by addressing them by the word residents rather than prisoners hence giving them a home by sense of belonging initiative. Furthermore, she assisted their information process, gives motherly affection as they fondly call her Mummy, she cuddles, pecks, gives high five salutes etc. The deep spirited Mother General mingles easily among the inmates hence breaking the class barrier. Above all she has turned the once known squalor into a home of comfort by repairing the walk ways, damaged ceilings, installing ceiling fans, constructing new soak away pits, placed lots of metal waste bins, new toilet doors in the cells etc. She equally brought in so many electrical appliances that can make life worthwhile like deep freezers, refrigerators for food preservation and others. The height of it all by the wonder woman was the thought of bringing on board pleasurable facilities like outdoor table tennis court, reading lanterns, reading tables/chairs for students and the incredible Love gardens where reconciliations take place.
Talking about the skill acquisition programme, the deputy controller, in her quest to touch more lives in the society; organizes empowerment programme, a life recovery Empowerment Programme with acronym, (ONESIMUS) at female maximum and medium security prison, Kirikiri, Apapa, Lagos. The programme attracted dignitaries like Minister of interior, Abdulrahman Dambazau, Comptroller General Nigerian prisons Service, Mr Jafaru Ahmed, assistant Comptroller General of Nigeria prisons service, Ogundana Jeromes and others. On their quarterly visits around prison reforms, they witnessed these changes.
Definitely it has been testimony galore ever since. In a courtesy visit by the wife of the president Her Excellency Mrs Aisha Buhari ably represented by the wife of the Vice president Her Excellency Mrs Dolapo Osinbajo her transformative strive was described as “first of its kind in the history of Nigerian Prison services”. Very many others have expressed their excitements upon visitation like Mrs Lola Akande, the commissioner for women affairs, Most Rev Ephraim Ademowo who has been the Anglican Bishop of Lagos since 2000 and the Provincial Archbishop and Dean of the Church of Nigeria, General Bello Dambazza {rtd} the able minister of interior. Comments like “where the society failed you are correcting, with your performance, you have drawn the line between teaching and training, you have separated yourself from those who watch things happen so as to be counted among those who make things happen and so many other angelic comments.
It might please you to know that when she assumed office in August 2015, she made a promise which sounded then like a passionate desire “to properly reform and release the inmates to reunite with their families”. Come to think of it, who thinks like that in Nigeria context? As a security giant one would have thought that her manifesto upon inception would bear phrases like War against indiscipline, Zero tolerance, intensifying security network against jail breaking etc. Today, she has not only lived up to expectation of her promise but written her name boldly on the marble.
According to Oxford Advance Learner’s dictionary of Contemporary English a prison is a building where people are kept as a punishment for a crime they have committed or while waiting for trial. Words like Apathy, excruciating, dreaded, anguish, pathetic, devastatic and more are associated with the clime. Of cause that is the society’s orientation. Be that as it may, the greatest discovery of our generation is that human beings can alter their lives by altering the attitude of mind. There is nothing more powerful than an idea because ideas rule the world we live. When an idea is conceived, it is called a thought; when a thought is conceived it is called a concept. Concepts are the material that dreams are made of and they serve as the substance for living and interpreting life. A nation or group of People will either advance or retrogress in measure of their thought pattern. This woman of the moment has changed words of the prison yard we used to know to love, care, tender, affection, sympathy, apathy and so on. Little wonder why it is said that the world will not know peace until philosophers become kings.
Once upon a time, National Impact crew rose upon appointment to pay a courtesy visit to this woman whose integrity knows no antiquity. For us it was a fantasy to have time out with a woman who have contributed so much to nation building by her innovative acumen. In our brief chat, it was crystal clear that DCP LIZZIE EKPENDU is a woman with deep spiritual insight in human relationship because she dwells deeply in the word of God. Being well imbedded in the Holy Spirit, she reflected with us on the fruits of the Holy Spirit taking her inspiration from the book Galatians 5:22 as love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, and faithfulness. “The presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives brings perfection. Prompted by the Holy Spirit through the gift of the Holy Spirit we bear fruits in the form of moral action. The fruits are visible characteristics of life changed by Jesus Christ” she preached. She sounded so angelic with her unique kind of voice. From the statistic on ground, this rare gem did not just become good rather she has been good from time immemorial. Even as young corp member at Owerri prisons she made tremendous marks that are still on record today. Continuing, she said, “Love is the fruit that is so needed in Nigeria which will bring about healing of our society. Just as it is said that when you love something or somebody deeply, you will not hurt the person, in fact you can even die for that thing or person.” BRAVO GREAT WOMAN OF VALOUR AND HAPPY BIRTHDAY FROM US AT NATIONAL IMPACT