Onitsha prison reels under over-crowding

THE Nigerian Prison in Onitsha, Anambra State, has been battling with accommodation problems, housing 877 inmates as against its capacity for 326.

The prison complex was built 100 years ago to accommodate 326 inmates in 24 male and female cells. Even some of the cells available accommodate over 50 inmates, who sleep in double-bunk beds.

When The Guardian visited the complex, it was discovered that there were no condemned inmates while only one male is on life sentence.

Investigations further showed that 66 males and three females are on the convicted list, while 38 males and one female are serving long jail terms.

Twenty-six males are on short-term sentence with two females serving the same term, while 771 males and 36 females are yet to be convicted.

The data also shows that overall, there are 838 male inmates and 39 female inmates.

When contacted, the Deputy Comptroller of the Prisons, Mr. Anthony Ubaike, said he could not speak to the press without clearance.

However, a source, who preferred anonymity, said a lot of efforts has been made to improve the conditions of inmates, especially in the area of rehabilitating the infrastructure including buildings, water supply, health facilities by the prison authorities, individuals and non-governmental organisations (NGOs).

Some cells have received some facelift including general renovation, fittings with ceiling/wall fans and toilet facilities while work is on-going in some of the blocks.

The source disclosed that inmates who want to go back to school are being taught at the Great Academy Correction School (GACS) within the prison complex where they are prepared for primary and secondary school examinations.

He, however, said there was need to provide vehicles to convey inmates awaiting trial to court, buildings to decongest over-crowded cells, equipment to train inmates on skills acquisition, musical instruments and television sets.




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