Posted by By NICHOLAS OHWO on
Revd. Solomon Olumuyiwa Kayode Williams is a penitent ex-convict and director-general of a non-governmental organisation, Prison Rehabilitation Ministry International (PREMI) with its national secretariat at Sagamu Road, Odongunyan area of Ikorodu, Lagos.
Revd. Solomon Olumuyiwa Kayode Williams is a penitent ex-convict and director-general of a non-governmental organisation, Prison Rehabilitation Ministry International (PREMI) with its national secretariat at Sagamu Road, Odongunyan area of Ikorodu, Lagos. He believes that prisoners could be productive if they are properly reformed, repositioned, refocused and rehabilitated.
He told Daily Sun recently how he was converted, the success story of PREMI, why he wants to become a senator, among others.
My name is Revd Solomon Olumuyiwa Kayode Williams. I am the director-general of PREMI. I am a native of Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital. I am 50 years old from a family of 19 children. I attended Methodist Primary School and Hope Grammar School, Ibadan. While I was in prison custody, I did a diploma course in General Advertising. After my prison terms, I had another diploma in Human Relations from University of Lagos.
How I was converted
I got converted through a tract I read in 1976 while I was still in the prison. I was transferred from Agodi Prison, Ibadan to Sokoto Prison because I was becoming so notorious. I felt that even if I come out of the prison, I will still be a criminal. I discovered there was no training programme of any kind, no reformation and no plan whatsoever by the prison authorities for the inmates.
The greatest day of my life was when I met with Christ in my solitary confinement in a single cell. I was incommunicado from other inmates. Oh! My friend, right there in my single cell, Christ met me through a Christian tract and magazine. I decided to give my life to Jesus Christ. In that cell, I saw Christ in a vision. I wanted to smoke Indian hemp with the tract that was given to me by a Christian who came to preach to me. I wanted to wrap my Indian hemp with it because it was soft and it will be good for smoking. But as God will have it, He used it to change my life. In the tract was written, Whether you are in hospital, prison or probably in solitary confinement accept Christ now into your life, God will set you free. It said just come down from wherever you are and I was on top of a bed. So, I regarded it as a direct message to me from God. When I came down from the bed, I knelt down and said Lord, I surrender all to Jesus Christ. That was June 4, 1976.
How I was released
I completed my 10 yearsí jail term. Before completion of the jail term, I wrote letters for mitigation of sentence, clemency and pardon, none was granted. It was the year 2000 when Obasanjo became the president that I was granted presidential pardon which is the removal of stigmatisation of the prison. That is one of the unique things that has ever happened to an armed robber in Nigeria. People that have been granted presidential pardon are those who committed politically-related offences. It is quite different from clemency or being released. I was released since 1980 but when they checked my records and they now see my new life they developed interest. They say since this man has become a changed man and now a role model, letís grant him a presidential pardon so that he could be free and be freed indeed. The month of June is very important to me. I was sentenced June, released June and pardoned June.
Life as a prisoner
I got involved in a robbery case several years ago, 1973. I was sentenced to 10 yearsí imprisonment. I came out of prison in 1980. I actually committed the offence but I gave my life to Jesus Christ while I was in prison.
I had traumatic experience while I was in prison custody. There was the problem of congestion and other dehumanising treatments. We were regarded as people who had reached the end of life. There was no training programme for the inmates, hence I went for a programme in general advertising which of course was sponsored by my father while I was in the prison.
There is nothing as good as freedom. Freedom is sweet and beautiful. Freedom with the fear of God is the greatest thing. I see my freedom as another opportunity given to me by Almighty God to live a new life in Christ. For, I am now a new creature behold old things have passed away. I would have been executed with other hardened criminals if not for the grace of God. Because God has a purpose for my life, I was spared the agony of execution. Now I am not just a free man, but an ordained pastor. I was ordained by The Apostolic Church in 1987 as a pastor and evangelist at a convention in Ketu, Lagos.
It is a non-governmental organisation (NGO). It is an organisation registered by Corporate Affairs Commission as limited by guarantee. Limited by guarantee means an organisation that trusted people of Nigeria, people of integrity like Chief Afe Babalola (SAN) who is the chairman Board of Trustees and Oba (Dr) Adedapo Tejuosho, Chairman Governing Council of the organisation belong.
Others include Chief Olisa Agbakoba (SAN), member of Board of Trustees, Dr G. N. Hamza, Chief (Mrs) Titi Ajanaku and Barrister (Mrs) O. A. Sogbola as Secretary General including the President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo as the grand patron. They are people holding trust for the organisation.
It was an organisation founded by me but entrusted to these people of integrity so that they can use their hard earned integrity and clean track records to make it credible. Through concerted effort we were able to register the organisation as a non-governmental organisation but limited by guarantee. This means, we can do other things apart from being an NGO. We have transport division and farm so that when prisoners come out of prison they can be given a kind of respite by giving them job to do.
My dream is that this organisation will eventually be taken over by the government. Actually, if you want crime to be reduced in the society, you need an organisation that could be able to cater for ex-convicts. My dream is not only the rehabilitation of the ex-convicts but to cater for the family of those who are incarcerated as time goes on because some people once their bread winner is imprisoned, the whole family is imprisoned.
My dream by the grace of God is for the organisation to live after me. I want to leave a legacy for posterity. I want to play a role in the society that I have wronged. I agreed that the society has given me another opportunity to be productive. I want to prove that an ex-convict can still be useful. That is why I thank Mr President and the state council for granting me the state pardon.
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