• Saturday, July 13, 2024
businessday logo

BusinessDay

Resilience [forging ahead] (2)

Nigerian prison

Bashorun J.K. Randle

Q: The fiery activist decried a situation whereby Nigerian prisons have transmuted into centres for recruiting and recycling of hardened criminals as against the reformatory role they should play

Trouble is clearly brewing for (and in) Nigeria, going by the petition lodged at ICC (International Court) by S. Momodu. Regardless, of the fact that the court is more familiar with cases of genocide, it had no choice but to formally acknowledge receipt of Momodu’s damning evidence:

“Fellow Nigerians, I am at pains to point out that our failing country is a crime scene. I am not kidding. There is no better description for what our beloved fatherland has become. For emphasis, the entire Nigerian landscape of 923,768 km2 (356,669 sq m), making it the world’s 32nd-largest country is a mammoth crime scene. Some would agree with me this is unarguably the biggest crime scene in the world. There is no denying that what we have on our hands is a country that had receded from those basic values that make other countries tick; that have put them on an enviable pedestal such that they are now reference points for others to emulate.

The country has become the land of gangsters, buccaneers, kidnappers, cultists, devilish terrorists (some of whom have been caught and released by a government too eager to downplay their atrocities), thieving politicians, government officials, security agents and their collaborators who steal without a care in the world; and sadly, we have a totally inept, incompetent and directionless government that indulges their bad behaviour.

Today, Nigeria is in pure confusion and chaos, with mind-boggling revelations of the mess in Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC). With the complete lack of outrage from a government that has consistently beaten its own worse record of indifference to public anger, it is obvious nothing will come out of the various probes. I dare say, what we know so far is just a tip of the iceberg. The intervention agency is a cesspool of corruption, massively inflated contracts, influence peddling, and abuse of the noble objective for which it was established which was to make the impact of the oil revenue felt in the oil-producing areas by way of infrastructure development.

Prominent sons and daughters of the region have become the greatest threats to the progress and development of that zone. It is one of the most heart-wrenching paradoxes for a region so rich, and yet so poor. It is difficult to understand the leaders of this zone. A commission established to somewhat midwife the rebirth of their zone is being roundly looted!!

The sons and daughters of the region have sadly in collusion with the power brokers and people from other regions frustrated the realisation of the noble goals for which the commission was created.

It was Charles F. Kettering (1876 to 1958) who pleaded that the court should allow mercy to prevail over justice (temper justice with mercy):

“You can’t have a better tomorrow if you are

thinking about yesterday all the time.”

However, the court was minded to disregard the unsolicited intervention of Lao Tzu

(unknown, 6th century – 4th century BC).

“If you look to others for fulfilment, you will never be fulfilled.

If your happiness depends on money, you will never be happy with yourself.

Be content with what you have; rejoice in the way things are. When

You realise that there is nothing lacking, the world belongs to you.”

As confirmation that justice comes in different dimensions, (sometimes as jungle justice !!), the “Nigerian Tribune” newspaper of February 11, 2016 carried on its front page:

Headline: (i) “NIGERIA PRISONS ARE “HITLER GAS CHAMBERS” – Ikimi

“Worried by the disclosure made by chairman of the Senate Committee for Interior, UsmanBayeroNafada, on Tuesday, that N130 is spent per meal for each inmate in Nigerian Prisons, a human rights activist, OghenejaborIkimi, has likened the reformatory centres to the Gas Chambers of Hitler.

Ikimi, who is the national coordinator for the Centre for the Vulnerable and the Underpriviledged (CENTREP), made this remark on Wednesday, in Warri, Delta State, during an exclusive interview with Nigerian Tribune.

Ikimi said the amount per meal for every inmate is far below N130 as claimed by Nafada on Tuesday, in Abuja.

“The N130 is even distorted. It’s less than that. I go to prisons. The state of prisons is reminiscent of the Gas Chambers of Hitler.

“That they (inmates) are even alive is a miracle. They’ve gone to the level of starvation.

Even if it is N130 being spent per meal, is it enough to feed a child let alone a full adult?

It’s not enough for a breakfast let alone to feed an inmate for a day. This means a meal is about N40 per inmate,” he lamented.

The fiery activist decried a situation whereby Nigerian prisons have transmuted into centres for recruiting and recycling of hardened criminals as against the reformatory role they should play.

“The prison is supposed to be a reformatory centre, so what kind of human beings are we now reforming?

Or what kind of people are we recycling? These prison inmates are worse off when they come out of the prison.

You hear of criminal gangs being formed in prisons. So, prisons have become a recruiting ground for criminal gangs. We have a lot to do in our prisons,” he stated.

He wondered why the present government is folding its arms, but expressed optimism that with the ongoing rigorous fight against corruption, the situation would be redressed.”

(ii) “MAN IMPREGNATES 13-YEAR-OLD STEP-DAUGHTER IN ONDO”

“A man identified as Femi Orojo has allegedly raped and impregnated his 13-year-old step-daughter, Odunayo in Okitipupa town in Okitipupa Local Government Area of Ondo state.

Mother of the girl, Mrs Bunmi Joshua, who said she had been married to Orojo for six years, said he took to his heels immediately after confessing to the crime.

She said she discovered that Odunayo was five months pregnant following her incessant sickness in recent times.

Her words: “It was one of my neighbours who called my attention recently that my girl was pregnant and anytime time I asked her who was responsible for the pregnancy, she would be crying that she would die if she disclosed the identity of the father.

I then took her to my pastor and after much pressure; she confessed that it was my husband.

She told my pastor that when I was not around, my husband entered into her room with a machete and threatened to kill her if she did not allow him to sleep with her.

After forcing her to have sex with him, my child said he brought out a red handkerchief and warned her not to tell anybody or else she would die. That is why she did not tell anyone.”

When contacted over the incident, Public Relations Officer of the state police command, Mr. Femi Joseph said the police had started investigating the matter .

Joseph added that the suspect was yet to be arrested and he has been added to the list of those wanted by the command.”