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Published On: Thu, Oct 19th, 2017

Rights group flay prisons’ congestion in Delta

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From Osakhare Erese, Asaba.

A human rights group, Centre for the Vulnerable and the Underprivileged (CENTREP) in Delta State has regretted the worsening conditions of the prisons in the state including other states in the country, and urged federal government to take urgent steps to salvage the system alleging to be running below the least human standards.
Investigations reveal that poor feeding methods of the inmates, particularly those in Ogwashi-Uku, Sapele, Agbor, and Warri prisons portend worrisome situation as in most cases the inmates allegedly feed on contaminated bread, “Santana” otherwise known as “Akpu”, beans and “Mukured” Garri prepared into eba. Though, contractors responsible for the supply of the food who did not want their names in the print have denied the act, but sources within the prisons confirmed that the inmates are currently passing through hell apart from the congestion menace.
In Ogwashi-Uku, Agbor prisons for instance, the inmates, further investigation revealed, are put into dingy rooms without ventilation and adequate care, a situation that has constantly recorded the hue and cry of no fewer than sixteen inmates allegedly feared dead in the last six months.
Mr. Peter Mrakpor, the Delta State Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice had few weeks ago told Journalists that the state government was committed to ensuring prisons’ congestion are reduced to low ebb and blamed the situation on slow pace attendance to cases, especially for the inmates on awaiting trials.
Meanwhile, the state Chief Judge, Justice Marshal Umukoro had last week assured that the solution in the prevailing prisons’ congestion would be looked into and called on judges/magistrates to avoid unnecessary adjournments to cases.
Insiders alleged that inmates are involved in outside labour such as Farm works, clearing and digging gutters including pit toilets and are paid pittance of money that will be surrendered to the top prisons’ officers who will under disguised by biscuits for the inmates as share from their labour. But a senior officer of Ogwashi-Uku prisons, who did not want his name in the print, denied the allegation as untrue,
saying that inmates are engaged in outside labour as part of the routine for their jail terms without payments.
In a statement issued and signed by the rights’ group Executive Director, Chief Oghenejabor Ikimi called for the immediate suspension of all ongoing military operations across the country, especially in Delta State, describing their operation as absurdity and aberration in a civil society. He called on federal government to replace the military with well equipped police force noting that since the advent of the military operations, it has allegedly recorded hue and cry of oppression and wicked activities. The statement lamented the deplorable “state” of the federal prison in Warri where an illegal slave camp with facilities for 307 persons had been converted to a prison institution at present with over 3,000 inmates without improved provision of feeding and others. Part of the statement reads. “We call on the federal government to renovate all the federal prisons across the nation to make them reformative centres as they have transformed gradually over the years from mere prisons to concentration camps reminiscent of the Nazi contraction camps described in Hitler Mean Kamp” Investigation revealed that federal prison Warri, which was renovated into a prison from a slave camp in 1907, meant for 307 inmates currently house over 3,000 inmates with zero facilities on ground including poor feeding and welfare of the inmates most of which are awaiting trials. At Ogwashi-uku, Agbor, Sapele the situation is worsened by alleged neglect by the prisons’ officials who are not bothered about complaints from the inmates. Offensive odours including poor toilet facilities might portend epidemic as nobody cares about the health of the inmates. Unconfirmed sources said many of the inmates have allegedly died of strange ailments as a result of the poor sanitation system of these prisons where inmates often shout for help. But a senior officer of the Agbor prisons who did not want his name in the print blamed the situation on government’s alleged negligence adding that prison’s reformation would far from reality.
The statement further alleged that the military operation will bring about more dehumanization, and insisted it cannot work.

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