By Maxwell Adeyemi Adeleye
15 of the inmates awaiting trials at the Abakaliki prisons have gone mad and require urgent medical attention, National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) have said.This is one of the shocking revelations made by the commission in the Abakaliki federal prisons.
It also said many children and their mothers have been languishing in the prisons for years for common offence which ordinarily shouldn’t have warranted their being taken to the prisons.
It also demanded urgent attention.
The Executive Secretary of the commission, Professor Bem Angwe made
the revelations at the government house, Abakaliki during a courtesy call on government Dave Umahi.
He said the commission was in Abakaliki to probe the attempted jailbreak of August 18 this year in which many inmates reportedly lost their lives.
‘’Some two weeks back when I led a team of the commission on the spot
assessment of the situation there in the Abakaliki prisons and found very pathetic situation. Situation where the inmates awaiting trial are more than 80% and that has been the situation for years.
‘’Sadly, if you enter any of the prison cells, you find that the inmates have nowhere to sit, lay or squat. In the nights, they take turn to sleep; some of them sleep for two hours and they are woken-up for other inmates to sleep.
‘’So many cases there are very sympathetic. We saw a woman with two
children in the prisons. She was accused of stealing coco yam of N400.
“They refused to grant her bail. They made difficult bail condition for her that require two sureties who are on level 16 in civil service. You can imagine somebody who was accused of stealing N400 worth of cocoyam, what access will she has to a grade level 16 officials of government?.
‘’There are some other women there with children who have this kind of pathetic conditions. There is an old man who has been there for eleven years without trail and if the person is discharged, what amount of compensation will be adequate for someone who has been there for eleven years without trial?
‘’There are more than 15 persons there who are mentally sick. These are our brothers who require medical attention and they are allowed there. Some urgent must be done to save their conditions ’’, he said.
Angwe lamented that many people have died in the prisons while awaiting trails.
‘’There is a case over killing of a Monarch. While some highly placed
personalities in the state was granted bail, the rest of the suspects have been kept in that prisons and they have been dying one after the other. Your Excellency, you have to set-up a committee to look into this case because the suspects have been dying and their families requires compensation’’.
He urged Umahi to provide medical attention to the inmates who were
shot during the attempted jailbreak.
Responding, Governor Umahi expressed dismay over the poor facilities at the Abakaliki federal prisons.
He regretted that prisons authorities have not paid attention to his letters on the need to rehabilitate the facilities.
He said if after seven days the authority refused to do something, the state government will be forced to embark on construction of befitting prisons for the inmates and directed the Commissioner for Lands and Survey to immediately commenced the process of constructing the prisons.
He noted that the bad condition of the prisons contributed to the inmates becoming mentally deranged, adding that the inmates where mentally okay before coming to the prisons where they developed the mental illness.