In what can only be described as a sorry case, verging on hopelessness, Inmates of the Ibara Prison, Abeokuta, Ogun State have accused prison officials of extorting cash from them to carry out their official duties. Some of the prison officials have also been accused of imposing levies on some of the inmates for the purchase of fuel and maintenance of the facility.
And if they failed to comply, some of the prisoners have claimed, on condition of anonymity, that they are threatened that they would not be taken to court for the hearing of their cases. It was also alleged that the renovation of a dilapidated building inside the prison which was recently completed was made possible as a result of contributions made by the inmates.
According to one of the affected inmates, on court days, prison officials would force them to contribute money to fuel vehicles adding, “If not, they won’t take you to court.” He added, “Who knows, maybe it is on such a day that the court may set that person free. This prison is congested due to unnecessary remand of innocent persons because they have no money to bribe the officials.”
Meanwhile, the Public Relations Officer of the Nigeria Prisons Service, Ogun State headquarters, Victor Oyeleke, however, denied the allegations. He said it was not possible for the warders to ask the inmates who are not engaged in any form of employment or business to pay for services rendered by the prison, that the Nigeria Prisons Service headquarters had been solely responsible for the provision of services enjoyed by the inmates in the prisons. About the renovation, he said “The painting of the yard and renovation is always done with the money provided by the prison service headquarters, as well as the fuelling of the vehicles. Inmates don’t pay levies while in prisons.”