The Imo State House of Assembly has expressed sympathy to the inmates of the Owerri Federal prisons due to their over congestion at the prison yard.
The Speaker of Imo State House of Assembly Rt. Hon. Benjamin Uwajumogu
led his colleagues on Monday 8th of August 2011 on a working visit to
the prisons. As the Speaker explained; the House was on the visit based on the motion Sponsored by Hon. Barrister Simeon Iwunze who represents Isiala Mbano constituency, on the need to relocate the Owerri-Federal Prisons because of the risk and dangers it poses to the seat of power which according to report is about 500 metres away.
Rt. Hon. Uwajumogu directed that Hon. Iwunze who is also the Chairman
House committee on judiciary should liaise with the state government through the Chief Judge on the modalities for the immediate
decongestion of the prisons including locating a mobile court inside the prisons to try the numerous awaiting trial cases so as to free
those inmates who have overstayed their remand.
The Speaker lamented that more than 80 inmates were confined to prison cells made
for only 25 inmates, arguing that the Owerri Federal Prisons needed to be rescued. He also asked the comptroller of Prisons, Mr. Gregory
Adinfono who guided the inspection tour to make available the list of relevant working tools needed in the electrical, carpentry and sewing machines workshops to the legislators for immediate provision.
Rt. Hon. Uwajumogu thereafter pledged to personally provide five (5) Computer machines so that the inmates would be computer literate.
Conducting the Speaker and other legislators round the over crowded prison yard, the Deputy Comptroller Mr. B. N. Ogbodo highlighted the numerous problems and handicaps facing the prison system management.
Inmates of the facility praised the Owerri prison authorities over the humane manner they have been treating prisoners and those awaiting trials, calling on the state government to assist them in the disposals of trials for those awaiting trials. They complained bitterly that Justice Ogwumike handling their matters had not been sitting since June 2010. They argued that the said Judge had adjourned their cases for too long, such that those inmates who are supposed to be freed were still in prison due to the intentional delay of their case.
Earlier in his address, the comptroller of Prisons Mr. Greg Adinfono lamented that the Owerri prisons meant for 550 inmates is harbouring over 1650 inmates with only 153 convicts and about 1497 awaiting trial
inmates. He decried the over-population of the prison which has led to the overstretching of the facilities, pointing out that there are no
computer education and Open University facilities unlike in other prisons across the country. The controller of prisons appealed to the state government to emulate Akwa-Ibom State government that built a “Five Star” prison in Ikot Ekpene which the Federal government has promised to re-in burse the cost and stressed that the Owerri prisons
is more or less “a prison by the road side”, insisting that there is always security threat as well as the inmates not being properly
In his speech, Rt.Hon. Benjamin Uwajumogu who spoke on behalf of the State government promised to provide the prisons with 3 (three) Hilux vans to convey the prisoners and those awaiting trials to Court as well as promised to assist in providing Furniture making Equipment, Hair Dryers, Sewing Machines etc to assist the inmates. On his personal
capacity the humane legislator pledged to deliver five (5) brand new computers and also pay the salaries of the resource persons that will train the inmates.
In her vote of thanks, the Federal Deputy Comptroller of prisons, Mrs. Ekavhiare Chika Maria thanked the Speaker for his prompt and positive response to appeals from the inmates and also from the comptroller of prisons for vehicles that could take inmates to courts for trials.
Source: IMHA (Media Unit)