In the cell block reserved for nursing mothers and pregnant inmates at the Kirikiri Female Prison, Lagos, toddlers clung to their mothers’ chests. They observed newsmen, when they visited last week Saturday, with a bemused expression on their young faces.
By Kunle Falay
They are in prison because their mothers are inmates. Apparently, they weren’t aware of a better life out there. They probably thought it was normal to be confined only to the four walls of the prison. No friends, no birthday parties, no relationship at all with other children outside the prison walls. They are victims of circumstances and will remain so until they are 18 months old.
These children – nine of them – were born within the walls of the prison. They live a regimented life; one brought about by the fact that in prison, rules are meant to be obeyed. When to sleep, when to eat, when to wake up, when to switch off the light and when to put it on are all regulated by prison authorities and this is the life these children have been born into.
The children are all below 18 months, so they could not interact verbally with our correspondent during the visit, which was aimed at shedding light on their lives.
“When the children are a year and half old (18 months), the mothers have to let them go. That is the regulation. Families of the inmates take the children away and take care of them till the mother gets out,” spokesperson of the Nigerian Prisons Service in Lagos, Mr. Biyi Jeje, had explained to Saturday PUNCH.
When the gate to the main yard of the prison swung open on the day our correspondent visited, dozens of inmates were seen doing their laundry on the grassy open ground.
Chattering while some were laughing, the inmates (the prison officials forbade them being called prisoners) were cheerful. An official of the prison told Saturday PUNCH why.
“They have the opportunity of doing their laundry once in a week. It is like a social time for them. They are able to wash their clothes and beddings and interact more,” the officials said.
A prayer and counseling session was ongoing in another part of the prison. A dozen inmates in white prison-style gown clapped and sang in a small hall, thanking God for life and good health.
Our correspondent was ushered into the cells of the nursing mothers.
A couple of them shared a small cell with bunk beds and the others shared a bigger one.
Twenty five-year-old Shade (not real name) had her five-month-old baby boy in her arms when our correspondent entered the cell she shared with five other nursing mothers. Prison officials were also in tow.
It was not eating time, so newsmen could not observe how the children were fed.
“You can ask them any question so far as it has nothing to do with why they are here and you protect their identities. We don’t want trouble from their lawyers,” an official said.
#EndSARS: Ekiti state government declares 24-hour curfew
Following the various attacks on #EndSARS protesters in the state, Governor Kayode Fayemi has imposed a 24-hour curfew on the state effective from 10pm on today, Tuesday, October 20.
In a statement released by the Secretary to the State Government, Biodun Oyebanji, the state government said the curfew became necessary following the state government’s observation of how the end SARS protest, which started as a peaceful protest against police brutality by youths in Ekiti State, has been hijacked by some hoodlums.
Read the statement below
1. The Government of Ekiti State has observed with growing concern how the ENDSARS protest, which started as a peaceful protest against police brutality by youths in Ekiti State, has been hijacked by some hoodlums.
2. The hoodlums have capitalised on the ENDSARS protest to rape, assault, rob and extort innocent citizens across the State. These are in addition to the wanton destruction of properties, particularly private properties.
3. Government is concerned that if this state of affairs is allowed to continue unabated, it will lead to a breakdown of law and order thereby threatening the wellbeing of the people of Ekiti State.
4. For the purpose of clarity Government continues to show understanding and responsiveness to the demands of the legitimate protesters.
5. On 16th October 2020, Dr. John Kayode Fayemi, Governor, Ekiti State met with the protesters in person. While identifying with the legitimacy of their protests, he assured them that the State Government will immediately put measures in place to respond to all their demands.
6. Government has since then constituted a Human Rights Investigation Panel to review all cases of abuse by Officers of the disbanded SARS. In addition, Government has enabled a Victims Compensation Fund to facilitate speedy remedial measures for victims of such abuse.
7. Furthermore, several officials of Government have engaged the protesters at multiple fora and platforms including the social media in order to ensure that concerns of protesters are properly identified and responded to in a prompt and efficient manner with necessary feedback.
8. Government had also at various times drawn the attention of the protesters to the troubling hijack of the protests by individuals whose only interest is to inflict violence on the people of the state.
9. In the past 48 hours there have been incidents of gang-rape, robberies, physical assaults on innocent people, looting and burning of a police station. These acts of brigandage are not in consonance with the legitimate aspirations of the protesters. It cannot be logical to seek to remedy impunity with impunity.
10. Government therefore cannot afford to watch a deliberate enthronement of anarchy by some bad elements who have hijacked the protest for some clandestine reasons.
11. Consequently, the Governor of Ekiti State, Dr Kayode Fayemi, hereby imposes a 24-hour curfew on all parts of the State starting from 10.00 pm tonight, Tuesday, October, 20, 2020.
12. Only essential workers and service providers with valid means of identifications are allowed to move around during the period of the curfew.
13. Any person found on the street that does not belong to this category, would be promptly arrested and prosecuted according to the laws of Ekiti State.
14. We seek the understanding of the good people of Ekiti State as we continue to take deliberate steps towards ensuring that peace and normalcy return to our state.”
Davido speaks on the events of the past 48 hours
Nigerian superstar, Davido has said criminals are responsible for the attack on two Correctional Centres in Benin City, Edo State.
Davido made the claim while absolving End SARS protesters of involvement in the attacks.
The singer pointed out that no amount of mischief would stop the protest against police brutality and bad governance.
Davido made the remark while condemning the attack on two Correctional Centres in Benin City, Edo State.
The hoodlums had attacked the facilities and freed some inmates.
Reacting, the singer in a series of tweets wrote: “After seeing all that’s gone on today I just want to say that from the beginning we have preached that the protest must remain peaceful and Law Abiding and as far as I know we have kept to that! And we will continue to keep to that so the narrative can NOT be switched up on us!
“The people they claim broke into prisons to free convicted criminals, burn police stations to steal weapons, damage police, government, and private vehicles are Criminals and everybody must condemn these acts. They are not part of our movement !
“#EndSars is a peaceful and law abiding protest that is going somewhere great! And no mischief can scatter it!”
Address Nigerians over #EndSARS protests – Senate urges Buhari
The Nigerian Senate has called on President Buhari to urgently address the nation so as to douse the tension in the country.
This comes as hoodlums continue to carry out various attacks on #EndSARS protesters and others in some parts of the country.
The Senators made the call for President Buhari to speak to the Nation after a motion was moved by Senator Biodun Olujimi and co-sponsored by all Senators on the ongoing nationwide protests believed to have been hijacked by hoodlums.
Part of the resolution of the Senators after deliberation include:
-Urge all tiers of government to put in place and sustain policies of social economic reforms that raise the standard of lives of our people;
-Call upon the Police to operate strictly in accordance with the rules of engagement appropriate in a democratic environment;
-Urge the Inspector General of Police to ensure a holistic comprehensive reforms of the police to increase the overall welfare including training and medical insurance of all members of the Nigeria Police Force
-Appeal to all Nigerians to resort to use of legal institutions to resolve disputes and conflicts;
-Urge the Nigerian youths and the Nigerian citizens to approach the National Assembly Committees Constitution and Reforms in order to secure far-reaching holistic amendments that are vital to the restructuring of our federation
-Urge the Federal Government to faithfully and comprehensively implement all the five demands of the #EndSARS movement and protesters with necessary timelines to rekindle confidence in government
-Appeal to #EndSARS movement and protesters to kindly in the interest of everyone stop their actions and embrace genuine dialogue; 7. Urge Mr. President to address the nation as soon as possible on these issues.
-Police should make it a duty to accompany protesters and should be involved in protecting genuine protesters.
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