My ‘Ordeal’ Inside Kirikiri Prison

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My ‘Ordeal’ Inside Kirikiri Prison, By Yushau A. Shuaib

My ‘Ordeal’ Inside Kirikiri Prison, By Yushau A. Shuaib

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This is not a joke, but a real-life story. I still wonder how my family members, friends and well-wishers would feel about my ‘ordeal’ inside the Kirikiri Medium Security Prison in Apapa, Lagos.

In fact, this write-up commenced in the Prison. All my life I have tried to avoid any act or behaviour that would warrant me being sent to any solitary confinement, whether in a cell, under house-arrest, a guard-room, or prison, not to talk of to the most popular (or is it notorious) Kirikiri Prison in Nigeria.

This piece was written by Yushau Shuaib. The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of 360Nobs.com.

In the past and up till now, I have deliberately tried to avoid visiting the offices of friends whose mandates involve the detention of people, even when, professionally, I engage in crisis communication, which involves relating with the security agencies.

Meanwhile, I have also realised that the only person who can be sure of not going getting detained, either in cell, through house-arrest or in prison, is one who is dead. Influential leaders have been detained and incarcerated at various times; some went into detention straight from high and powerful positions, while others moved from detention centres to privileged posts. Nelson Mandela, Shehu Shagari, Muhammadu Buhari, Olusegun Obasanjo, Obafemi Awolowo, Wole Soyinka and even Sambo Dasuki, who has been granted multiple bails, are very few of personalities who have tasted state confinement and imprisonment, whereby their movement and freedom were not only restricted but denied.

Sometimes last year, I received an invitation from the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) over the investigation of a company involved in crisis management for the security sector. I was embarrassed by the reckless and baseless indictment of the firm by the controversial and unceremoniously disbanded AVM Jon-Ode arms probe panel. I was nevertheless treated with dignity by the anti-corruption agency, without being detained, after providing the necessary information on the issues at stake. Meanwhile, as a man, I have always prepared for the worst scenario in case of untoward eventualities.

Before I give the reason for my journey into Kirikiri Prison, I know for sure that the right of people, in relation to their physical integrity, is that they must be free from arbitrary arrest. No matter the situation, I know that potential detainees, by right, should be informed of the fact and grounds of their arrest. In fact, victims of the emerging professional whistle-blowing enterprise deserve some respect because they are innocent until proven guilty in competent courts.

I must state that I had no hesitation when the prison officials in Abuja insisted that I must be conveyed to Kirikiri Prison. I was flown to Lagos and transported by a bus to the Prison in Apapa. I must also be very sincere to state that I was neither maltreated nor harassed from Abuja to Lagos, even though we experienced some flight delay.

At the entrance to the Prison, I became scared to the marrow on reading a notice which stated that the Kirikiri Medium Security Prison was overcrowded. On that day, March 1, 2017, it accommodated 3051 prisoners instead of its official capacity of 1700. More shocking was the fact that 2627 detainees were not convicted by any court but they were awaiting trial. Some awaiting trial inmates were immorally detained for the frivolous offences of fighting, walking at odd hours and petition writings.

Rather than convey me straight to a cell, the officials at Kirikiri Prison took me to a barbing saloon where imprisoned barbers and trainees provide the services. Next to the barbing saloon were tailoring and shoemaking workshops, where inmates were trained in the production of clothes, shoes, and bags, among others. I learnt some religious bodies and Non-Governmental Organisations purchase the items for sale outside the prison yards.

At another corner of the Kirikiri Prison was a Library and a Computer Centre, where some inmates study for examinations. Some have even graduated with flying colours from the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN), I learnt. By convention, further education is to be provided to all prisoners, while the schooling of illiterates and young inmates are compulsory. Even though prison is not a place for recreation and relaxation, in this Prison, there is a playground, a volleyball court and table tennis facilities. Such recreational activities like sports, music and other hobbies are also by convention required to be made available in prisons.

Strangely enough, I noticed that most of the inmates were not malnourished but looked rather healthier than I had expected. I suspect that they are probably offered better nutrition, medical examinations and treatments than it is imagined or believed.

While being led towards the prison accommodation, the official said that by law, cells for individuals should not be used to accommodate more than one person, while communal cells should only house prisoners who have been properly selected to share them. He added that all facilities are expected to meet the requirements, with regard to health, heating, ventilation, floor space, sanitary facilities and lighting.

My ‘real ordeal’ inside the prison was how to convincingly inform my family members and well-wishers that I was never arrested but was actually on an official assignment and Special Tour of prison facilities in Lagos with some media executives, including editors, columnists, broadcasters and journalists. We were led and guided through the experience by the spokesperson of the Nigerian Prisons Service (NPS), Francis Enobore and the officer in charge of the Kirikiri Prison, Emmanuel Oluwaniyi.

As a proof of the tour of the prison, I requested the spokesperson of NPS to take my picture while standing at the window of the Computer Centre. He obliged. After the tour, we returned to our hotel for buffet and attended a three-day workshop on prison reform organised by Prisoners’ Rehabilitation and Welfare Action (PRAWA).

After spending nights in the hotel, I returned to Abuja without spending a night in the Prison.

Yushau A. Shuaib, yashuaib@yahoo.com; www.yashuaib.com, writes from Abuja.

This piece was written by Yushau Shuaib. The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of 360Nobs.com.

Datboyjerry

Datboyjerry

I am but your herald boy in the art of the pen.. An eccentric Environmental Biologist smouldered in the glorious epiphany of online journalism. If you ever find my article unduly insipid, sue me and i’ll refund you...

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