The Enugu prisons is presently looking into the welfare of inmates locked up in the female prison which as at October, 2018 housed about 38 female inmates and three children.
This is coming after Royal FM journalist; Babatunde Okunlola’s investigative trilogy: BORN & LOCKED UP on the state of prisons, and available welfare for pregnant women, nursing mothers and children living in prison with their mothers.
The investigative report focused on the Lagos, Abuja and Enugu prisons.
In the Enugu report, one of the former awaiting trial inmates, who prefers not to be named, spoke with Babatunde.
She narrated that she was locked up for months during pregnancy, and eventually gave birth in December, 2017, with no access to antenatal care.
According to her, she gave birth on the floor of the prison with a fellow inmate having to stand as a midwife.
“I stayed there without going for antenatal, without taking any drugs as a pregnant woman that I was. I suffered from malaria for a month and days. If not for God, I could have died there. Even my fellow women pitied me, wondering how I would survive,” she said.
While narrating her ordeals, she also said she had to manage inedible meals served during the period of her stay in prison as a pregnant woman.
Non-Governmental Organisations, NGOs and human rights officials who spoke with Babatunde, also corroborated the story of poor welfare packages in prisons.
However, Mr Ndubisi Ogbodo, the Enugu state Prisons Controller denied that such practices still occur in the prison.
While confronted with findings made by the Royal FM investigative journalist, Ogbodo said, “What I can tell you is that the situation has changed completely. It doesn’t happen again. As we speak, that system can not happen again, because I have NGOs now who will take care of any female prisoners with a child or who is expectant.
“I can also call my store officers in charge of the prison drugs. There are drugs for them, food rations as we speak. I can tell you this because I have settled down.”
The prisons controller who resumed duty as the state prison controller late 2017, further promised to look into corruption allegations raised immediately, and bring complicit officers to book.
“If it happened then, it must be that some of the staff who were within the female compound were conspiring, and if, during my investigation, I find out any such thing, they will go”
Concerning the 3 women locked in with their children in the prison, the controller noted that, “The commitment that I will give you is that now that I have seen this now, I will make sure that by tomorrow, I will call for their warrants to know their offences.
“If they are offences like stealing, wandering or any other minor offence, by December, they will be released in the next visit of the state Chief Judge who will either give them outright release or grant them bail.”
Speaking with journalists after the report, Babatunde Okunlola, noted that the commitment made will not only help alleviate the situation for mothers and babies locked in the state prison, but also female inmates locked within, who NGOs and human rights activists interviewed during the trilogy.
One of the most disturbing cases of human rights challenges bedeviling the country, bothers on cases of Awaiting Trial Persons.
Nigeria’s awaiting trial persons’ population presently makes up for 68% of its prisons population.
The BORN & LOCKED UP project investigates three prisons with the highest rates of female incarcerations in different geographical terrains where they are situated in Nigeria and the criminal justice system from point of arrest, through the courts and the prisons.
The project was funded by the International Centre for Journalists, ICFJ and the children’s investment fund foundation.