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– The NHRC says many children and their mothers have been languishing in Abakaliki federal prisons for years
– The executive secretary of the commission, professor Bem Angwe, made disclosure at the government House, Abakaliki during a courtesy call on Governor David Umahi
– Angwe says inmates in the prison cells have nowhere to sit, lay or squat
The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has disclosed that more than 15 inmates awaiting trials in the Abakaliki federal prisons are already mad and require urgent medical attention.
The commission according to Leadership, disclosed on Sunday, October 30, that 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.
The executive secretary of the commission, professor Bem Angwe made disclosure at the government House, Abakaliki during a courtesy call on Governor David Umahi. Mr. Angwe 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,” he said.
Angwe lamented that inmates in the prison cells have nowhere to sit, lay or squat. In the nights, he said they take turn to sleep, noting that some of them sleep for two hours and they are woken-up for other inmates to sleep.
He said: ‘’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 . Angwe lamented that many people have died in the prisons while awaiting trails.
Speaking on a case involving the killing of a Monarch, he said while some highly placed personalities in the state was granted bail, the rest of the suspects have been kept in the 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 said.
He urged Umahi to provide medical attention to the inmates who were shot during the attempted jailbreak. In response, Governor Umahi regretted that inmates were been kept under such poor conditions at the Abakaliki federal prisons.
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.
Umahi directed the commissioner for lands and survey to immediately commence the process of constructing the prisons.
The governor said the bad condition of the prisons contributed to the inmates becoming mentally deranged. He noted that the inmates where mentally okay before coming to the prisons where they developed the mental illness.
Meanwhile, David Umahi has rescued the woman who was languishing in jail for allegedly stealing N400 coco yam. A statement from the chief press secretary to the governor, Emma Anya, said Governor Umahi ordered that the woman be released after being briefed by the National Human Right Commission (NHRC).