Some inmates of the Ibara Prison, Abeokuta, Ogun State have accused prison officials of extorting cash from them to carry out their official duties.
Our correspondent learnt that some of the prison officials also impose levies on some of the inmates for the purchase of fuel and maintenance of the facility. Prison inmates, who spoke to our correspondent on condition of anonymity, claimed that those who failed to meet the demands would not be taken to court for the hearing of their cases.
It was learnt that a dilapidated building inside the prison was repainted green and yellow recently after the inmates were allegedly made to contribute some money for the renovation of the structure.
One of the affected inmates alleged that on court days, prison officials would force them to contribute money to fuel vehicles adding, “If not, they won’t take you to court.” The source said, “Who knows, maybe it is on such a day that the court may set that person free. This prison is congested due to unnecessary remand of innocent persons because they have no money to bribe the officials.”
Another inmate alleged that he was remanded in the prison by a court because his family could not raise the bribe money demanded by the Investigating Police Officer, who got angry and arraigned him before a judge on “rhetorically structured accusation”.
The Public Relations Officer of the Nigeria Prisons Service, Ogun State headquarters, Victor Oyeleke, however, denied the allegations. Oyeleke said it was not possible for the warders to ask the inmates who are not engaged in any form of employment or business to pay for services rendered by the prison.
He said the Nigeria Prisons Service headquarters had been solely responsible for the provision of services enjoyed by the inmates in the prisons. “The painting of the yard and renovation is always done with the money provided by the prison service headquarters, as well as the fuelling of the vehicles. Inmates don’t pay levies while in prisons,” Oyeleke said.