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Pragmatic, reserved and a deep thinker who loves family, sports especially football where am married to two wives: the first, AC Milan who has my loyalty and the second wife, Manchester United who has all my undying love and pampering, lifestyle and society parties. Need I say the law is more than a profession but a lifestyle for me.

Adekanye Adeyinka Olajide.

I do it for me

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Nigerian prisons services are just like many things in Nigeria that has gone wrong, needing drastic solution and immediate attendance. In fact, a visit to one will show how neglected, abandoned, and over looked they are. The thing that embitters is that it is an identical pattern, which cuts across all our prisons.

The state of affairs in local prisons is horrific. Facilities are an eyesore: buildings are dilapidated and totally ignored, accommodation is at a cluster, feeding is non-existence, toilets are unavailable leaving most occupants to defecate and urinate in the cell they have been put, there are no beddings, mattresses or any kind of comfort in these cells. They put prisoners in cage as if they are animals totally stripped of their fundamental human rights. Our reformation centres are not adequately equipped and many are redundant. Needs of prisoners are not met. The environment oozes the most offensive smell and in no way are conducive for any human to function properly. Some bear no difference with a jungle, as they are unkempt, harbouring wild animals; prisons barely offer medical facilities with any effective treatment given to the prisoners.

A visit to any Nigerian prison will bring tears to the eyes. In some cases, most female prisoners with their infants in jail, as there are no welfare centres to compliment prisons services. Many give birth in prisons; leaving in such appalling conditions until they gain their freedom; if they ever do! Some prisons even have juveniles incarcerated.

The problem seems to be a misconception of why prisons came into being. Our nation has misplaced the reason for the establishment of prisons. Prisons across the world render correctional and reforming services. It is a place specially created, to seclude offenders, who have contravened the provisions of the law from the society. In essence, it is an attempt to while having punishment as the motive for a jail term; also reform such offender who has sentenced by a competent court of law, which has exercised its jurisdiction over a matter.

The prisons while correcting replicates a society too but only within confined walls. Thus, it incorporates recreational facilities, protection of prisoner, proper feeding though restricted, vocational jobs to learn within the confined walls and above all to train prisoners so that they can have a smooth integration back into the society once they serve their term.

Therefore, a prison is not a place to dump prisoners in hostile conditions thereby making them more hardened. It is a place set up to confine, restrict, and define an offender’s freedom to drive home the reason for punishment while also engaging them positively. An offender, who is guilty of stealing fowl but put with murderers, will definitely return to the society more hardened!

Nigerian prisons are perilous, a place for the mighty and powerful to dump individuals who have wronged them and have them punished with the exclusion of the court. This is the main reason why our prisons are overcrowded. Many are victims of circumstances while others are jailed for offences never committed by them but brought upon them by a grossly incompetent police force that lack adequate investigative procedures.

Many prisons do not have pipe borne water nor powered with electricity. There are no tables and chairs, no cleaning services where bedspreads are available, no proper cleaning services. Prisoners sleep on bare floor and not properly clothed. Many prisoners suffer abuse of all kind by cellmates. Worst of all is that those who gain freedom, are left with serious sickness to contend with such as kidney problems, internal bleedings and various defects arising from abuses suffered from mates and warders. Some even have infections to battle. There have been cases of sexual abuse on female prisoners who leave cell pregnant for warders and some even grow their child in such dreadful conditions and even male sometimes.

It is still a myth on why government still pays little or no attention to sufferings and plights of prisoners. The only hope for wrongfully jailed persons is a pardon from the state, which is usually a rare occurrence that is often too little too late and never effectively decongest our prisons.

There must be a blueprint to correct this fashion. There must be a conscientious attempt of reorientation of those who provide prisons services. Implement laws that are in place. Government must be stern in disciplining warders who abuse prisoners. Similarly, retrain police officers on their roles in the society, which is to be the friend of the people. Hence, the police force must avoid getting in the web and used as weapons by the powerful to punish unjustly. Following the provisions of the law to the letter is crucial. In addition, the citizens must know their rights and insist that law enforcers respect such. The enforcers must meet certain terms even when awaiting trial before having them reprimanded.

Above all, the government must go beyond paying lips service to reforming the prisons. Facilities such as sports and games centre must be provided in every prison, all prisons must be secured to prevent jail breaks, power supply of electricity and pipe borne water is a must, there must be sufficient toilets of modern day standard and toiletry regularly provided, allocating prisoners to cells must be strictly adhered to in terms of numbers. Government must invest in prison services by creating different types like maximum-security prisons for serious offenders, put in town outskirts. Pay prison officers promptly and with an attractive remuneration to curtail preferential treatments afforded to the V.I.P prisoners by creating home away from home treatments for them.

Finally, it must be accepted that these prisoners are human who still have rights to be respected and honoured no matter how defined those rights become!