From Nosa Akenzua, Asaba
Tension and fear of the unknown have continued to unsettle Ogwashi Uku Prison in Delta State following the congestion of the prison with over 800 inmates struggling for air of freedom within the prison’s premises.
The Deputy Controller, Ogwashi Uku Prisons, Frank Okonkwo who spoke to journalists in Asaba on Sunday confirmed that the prison was over congested with over 800 inmates instead of 160 capacity space for inmates, adding that if urgent steps were not taken to create enabling environment for the inmates, there might be death tolls almost on daily basis.
He said:” the prison at the moment is housing over 800 inmates instead of 160 inmates as designed, and we are in serious problems and if urgent steps are not taken to ensure that the inmates have air of freedom within the premises and in regard to their health especially the environment, We are appealing to Federal Government and state governments to come to our aid.”
Noting that the prison has been doing all within its ability to ensure that inmates are well taken care of in line with the ongoing reforms by Federal Government, Okonkwo said that the problem militating against effective performance on the side of the officers of the Correctional Service was the issue of mobility, adding” we have just two vehicles for the conveying of inmates to courts, this is not enough at all,if we can have an additional two vehicles,it will go a long way in helping us to perform better, and apart from issue of vehicles, the facility itself is not connected to the national grid, so we don’t have electricity, and in most cases, we have to run generator, and we will spend more money to power the generator almost every day”
Okonkwo disclosed that though the inmates are feeding well, but will continue to face challenges in area of electricity, spacious environment, and provision of basic amenities if urgent care are not provided by the Federal and state governments, and however Commended the state for donating a bus to the service sometimes last year as the only vehicle conveying the inmates to court during their court days.
Meanwhile, ten convicted inmates of three Custodian Centers in the state have regained their freedom courtesy of the Forum of Political Appointees of Governor Ifeanyi Okowa on Youth Development.
Executive Assistant to the Governor on Youth Development, Innocent Esewezie who confirmed this to Journalists in Asaba at the weekend, disclosed that the inmates were in Kwale, Warri and Agbor Correction Centers where the ten inmates with the Options of Fine were released, adding that the guesture was in tandem with the Youth Development programmes of the Okowa led administration .
He said that the idea was not to encourage the convicts to go to crime , pointing out that the Forum would keep in touch with the freed in mates with a view to meaningful engaging them and ensured they are integrated into the society, and warned the beneficiaries against going back to crime as they have turned over a new leaf.