Nigerian Prisons, A Training Ground For Hardened Criminals – Ex-convict
Mr Koyode Williams of the Prison Rehabilitation Ministry International said that the prisons in Nigeria had no capacity of reforming criminals, insisting that the prisons and the prisons’ officials needed complete reform.
The ex-convict, who is now a pastor and a member of the Presidential Committee on Prisons Reforms, told Channels Television on Wednesday that “several prohibited items come into the prisons with the aid of the prisons’ officials”.
After a riot thought to be a jail break attempt occurred on Friday evening at the Kirikiri medium prisons in Lagos, there were revelations that some inmates have mobile phones and also have access to hard drugs.
Mr Koyode said that the prohibited items got into the prisons through the “super prisoners” who pay prisons’ officials to get a comfortable life in prison.
He further blamed the Deputy Comptroller General of the Nigerian Prisons, Kayode Odeyemi, who is in charge of the Kirikiri Prison, for the riot, insisting that he had not considered the best way to handle the super prisoners before enforcing some laws.
Mr Odeyemi had told reporters when the Minster of Interior visited the prison that he had seized some mobile phones and generators belonging to some inmates, which he believed angered the inmates.
But Mr Williams said: “You have to study the terrain so that you don’t bang on the inmates because there are super prisoners that are bigger than him.
“He is also not fully experience about handling the issues of the prisoners.
“The super prisoners are bigger than other prisoners. They have the money, power and they have people outside supporting them.
“They are the owners of the generators and the mobile phones that were seized. How did the handsets get into the prison. The prisoners did not go out there to get the phones. Insiders must be part of the people bringing the phones, Indian hemp, cigarette and every other things that you buy in the society,” he said.
He further alleged that the prisons lacked proper categorisation and that the welfare of the prisons’ officers was not taken care of.
“They beg from the prisoners. There are lots of corruption going on in the prison. There are prisoners that send prisons’ officers on an errand.
“Why will the prisons authority go and invite the army when we have the armed squad of the Nigerian Prison. Military men should not be invited to invade the prison where prisoners are without guns,” he said, emphasising the need for proper funding and equipping of the prison squad.
Responding to Mr Williams’ claims via the telephone, the spokesman for the Nigerian Prisons Service, Ope Fatinikun, dismissed Mr Williams’ claims that there were super prisoners in the prisons.
He insisted that the prisons were categorised and that “no inmate pays money to the prison officers to bring in prohibited items”.
He attributed the problems the Nigerian prisons was having to the slow trial process in Nigeria, a development he said had had left many inmates still awaiting trial.
Out of 2,534 inmates in the prison only 98 have been tried and sentenced. Others are awaiting trials.
He said that the prisons authorities were investigating the cause of the riot and would make the report of the investigation public.
“The Acting Comptroller General of Prisons, has set up an investigation panel. the panel is still sitting. Don’t let us pre-empt the panel outcome.
“The number of the persons that have not been convicted is way higher than those convicted and that its a huge challenge for the us,” he said.