The Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Bishop Mathew Hassan Kukah, on Thursdayadvised inmates of Sokoto prisons to move closer to God.
Speaking when he visited the prisons as part of activities to mark this year’s Christmas Kukah said it was necessary as God never failed His servants.
He said that the Catholic Diocese had for over three years celebrated with the prisoners at Christmas as a way of extending the joy of the season to them.
“It is a season of joy and celebration so we have come here to celebrate with you because we are all one, Muslims and Christians alike,” he said.
“I am not here to find out what reasons you all have for finding yourselves here but to advice you to take life more seriously and start making plans for your future outside of this prison,” he added.
He said that some of the young inmates were supposed to be in school while the older ones were supposed to be working to make ends meet for their families.
Kukah said that they, therefore, needed to make efforts, while in prison, to be better and change their ways so that they would have a better future.
He said: “An idle mind is the devil’s workshop so you need to think of what you want to do and start working towards it so that when you are out of here, you will have a source of livelihood.
“Last year, I saw about 600 inmates.
“Now the number has increased to over 700.
“No matter how comfortable you are here, this place is not a place for you to be.
“Your mates are out there trying to make it for themselves and you are in here.
“Some of you are here for the second or third time, which shows how unserious you are.
“I pray that God blesses you and hopefully some of you will celebrate next Christmas with your family and friends.”
Kukah, who was accompanied by Fr. Victor Mordi, the Coordinator of the Justice Development and Peace Caritas, and Rev. Sisters of Daughters of Divine Love Convent, later distributed a meal to more than 740 inmates.
Fr. Mordi, in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria, said the Catholic faithful chose to share the joy of Christmas with inmates just as Christ shared himself with humanity.
Mordi, who is also the prison coordinator of the Diocese, said the gesture was also to complement government’s effort to improve the condition of prisons.
He said: “We always come once every month to bring cloths, food items, pray, counsel and interact with Christian inmates.
“This is the time we come and get to see all of them, including the Muslims.”
Mordi said the Diocese makes continuous efforts to ease the plight of inmates and assist them acquire vocations that would be useful to them later.
He added: “We also pay fine for those first time inmates who do not have the means to do so.
“We hope in the near future to assist inmates improve their literacy level through education.”