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With the creepy ugly-looking walls, the bugs, the sour meals, the horrible re-sounding noise, the very hard labor, the early mornings and late nights and some more are some of the unending nightmares that abound in the 8-by-7 foot cell which is usually filled with bleakness and drudgery dressed with an unknown tomorrow cum a deafening solitude that leaves one thinking if there would ever be a rise to yet another setting sun and the imprisoned fervently looking forward to doing the ever wished and the ever longed-for long walk to freedom.
These days, prisons are not fine places. They are not friendly-looking either, a place one never wishes to pay a friend nor foe a visit. Like the free who never dreams to lose her liberty while the captive forever prays, longs and awaits total freedom.
The prison, more often than not, house innocents that are unfortunately tagged criminals and become victims of circumstance, through no faults of theirs find themselves behind bars and often times waste away. These ugly situations gave rise to Step To Life, a foundation that is ready to give back to humanity and ensuring that human rights are not infringed upon.
Established in 1997, Step To Life Nigeria envisions building a sustainable Human Rights Culture and good governance in Nigeria and Africa assisting its citizenry to live in dignity and with a mission to contribute to the overall quality of life of Nigerians through proper education, youth and socio-economic development and an holistic approach to the wellbeing of families as the building blocks of the society through the promotion of physical, mental and spiritual health programmes.
The president of STLN, Mr Fela Bright with well over 24 years experience as a strategic behaviour communicator and several interactions with inmates in prisons opines that life is too short to be wasted away without achievements or impacts, stating that for whatever reasons any human spend in the four walls of a prison does not make him less of a being, citing the likes of Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela, that even though they were locked up for years and not criminals, the beauty, Mr Bright said was that they did not wallow in the predicament and at last freedom came to them and they became heroes at the long run.
On impacts and achievements of Step To Life Nigeria, Mr Bright had a list which includes: advocacy for the inauguration of the statutory Three Publishing Houses supporting GCE/WASC Preparatory Classes for inmates and provisional approval for the prison being used as an examination centre by JAMB pending the request being formalised by the Prison authorities. STLN worked in several prisons – Aba, Agodi (Ibadan), Olokuta (Akure), Oke-Kura (Ilorin), Kuje (Abuja) and others as Consultants and became fully involved in HIV/AIDS cases even for the inmates.
STNL went ahead to initiate, implement and evaluate programmes and services on Human Rights; conducted training, seminars and workshops on human rights as it relates to good governance, gender and other related issues; initiated and promoted advocacy on prison reforms, gender and other human rights issues; collaborated and built networks with local, national and international agencies and organisations on programming services for the enhancement of human rights and education especially among the youths.
According to Mr Bright, he said that working with some of the prison inmates and security agents to combat crime was a huge success which gave rise to the active involvement of the foundation with the Nigeria Prison Services and the National Human Rights Commission which in turn gave birth to free services from lawyers.
The president of STNL further stated that the sponsored TV programmes for female in 2007/2008 also recorded another huge success which had a positive influence on several women and young girls.
Not failing to mention STNL’s joy that knew no bound when the foundation appealed and won the death sentence case passed on a convict, Saka, who was on death row at the Federal Court of Appeal, Ilorin in 2007. HE WAS RELEASED. Mr Bright in this euphoria gladly stated that this came as a major victory for the lawyers that provided the free services and stated further that STLN as a consistent human right foundation will not relent but continue to fight for and serve humanity.