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PRISON REFORM: A CURSE IN NIGERIA, BLESSING ELSEWHERE

By Ibraheem Alli,

 

He was so passionate of travelling out of Nigeria. He resorted to rare bold decision. He sold his shop located in Ilorin to garner resources for the trip. Fortunately, he travelled but unfortunately, he was reprimanded on the basis of his travelling documents. He was imprisoned for 6 months. To my greatest surprise, he prayed for the elongation of his prison term. What an irony of situation but do you know how?

The above is a clear and convincing manifestation of a man who out of curiosity to visit United Kingdom materialized, but landed in prison, but subsequently made his millions in the prison premises. A blessing unrealistic in the country (Nigeria) of ours. It was not his prowess but the US prison reform, format, guide and template that appreciate skills and promote optimism.

The rights of inmates are unconditionally denied in Nigeria. They are reduced to nothing and treated like a caged animal that can neither make choice nor relocate in any form. They are subjected to dictates of an ordinary man even as against what our Qur`an and Bible (Constitution) say.

The reminiscence of May 1989 bitter experience encountered by inmates of Benin prison is shocking. Armed police men killed twenty four inmates rioting over food supplies. What will they pay to recover the loss lives? It is only in Nigeria people are afraid of prison because of its connotation. Prison in most countries is a reformation centre.

In June 1989, the Civil Liberties Organization filed a suit on behalf of one thousand detainees held without trial at Ikoyi. Unfortunately, the litigation fade just like day cloud. Can someone tell me where Nigeria is heading to?

The rejuvenation of these deficiencies disappointedly has a link with the third tier of
Government. The judiciary is appreciated not only for its strength but also deficiencies in adjudicating justice. Justice is gold in most nations, rarely procure by the abject. The guilty are either fine or incarcerated depending on the gravity and the jurisdiction of the legal luminaries. Prison, basically is for reformation of the guilty. But are the reformations visible in Nigeria?

Prison, a reformation home of the guilty is a deformation centre in some countries, Nigeria inclusive. What is the reformation when most crooks become harden after their emancipation from prison? We have read in most print media, the re-arrest of copious criminals a week or two-week after serving a prison term. What is the faith of our future if the same criminal is exchanging prison term just like cloth? Can we proudly say they have reformed when they have not repented?  I don`t know where to hide, whether to stand for the prison reform or to against and castigate the incarcerated for the barefaced mind. Many factors must be counted for this.
The officiating officials behind the prison must be call to order or better manifest the theory. If excursion overseas would ameliorate the shame, government should please foot the bill and wake from slumber.  It is only in Nigeria prison inmates are subjected to hard labours. They are counted as inferior with little or no mercy. Inmates have become element of molestation even after discharge. Leaders are ignorant of the fact that tomorrow`s leaders may be dejected today. Who knows, maybe they have not read the history of some world leaders who have undergone prison sentenced but got reformed, mend fences and turned a new leaf.

A recent visit to one of the prominent prison located in the Federal Capital territory was horrific, terrifying and incredible. I repeatedly asked myself why is the uni road to most of the Nigeria prison so dilapidate, snaky and potholes made? A survey revealed it was fear of jail brake and prevention of invasion. Haaa! Nigerians, we are afraid of our destiny because of our deeds. Why should there be such reasoning in a reformatory centre?

Another shocking story was the lack of medical treatment ascribed to deflated tyres of prison vehicles to convey ailing inmates for medical treatment. Imagine a country you are proud to born in. How much is tyre to become an impediment to healthy living?

The cited case in the first paragraph was a non-fiction of a man who disposed all his belongings in his quest to visit in UK. His travelling documents were questioned when he got UK. He was sentenced to 6 months prison term. But because of the structure, policy and the modulus operandi of the reformation centre, he made money far more than what he expended on the trip and prayed for the elongation of his prison term. An irony of situation in Nigeria context. He got himself engaged with knowledge based petty trading inside the UK prison. When will Nigeria turn a new leaf?

The fate of our nation is bright with hopelessness. Fixing the fixable is compounding reasoned by our handlers who rarely see the suffering behind most egocentric dictates. Our mouth odour is stench in the international community. We are treated with disdain all because of our past and present actions, inactions and reactions. The reformation of Nigeria prisons must be comprehensively addressed to perform it roles.

Our institution (government), its organs are all faulty. If there will be any meaningful reform in Nigeria prison, all those organs must be ready to pay the expensive price. The prison must be visited frequently to ascertain normalcy. The financial institutions must be utilized to ensure effectiveness. The judiciary must be given ultimatum to address awaiting trial.

I will strongly challenge our institution by these interrogative remarks. When will Nigeria prison become a reformatory ground? Who will be responsible for this?  When will there be timely checkmating of prison activities with factual reports? And when will the inmates start eating the same food and receive
the same medical treatment with the rest? If any of these questions is left unaddressed, the Nigeria prison might continue dancing in the pool of backwardness and stagnant as a deformatory home.