Christopher Isiguzo in Enugu
Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State has called on the federal government to urgently consider relocating the Enugu Prisons from its present location at the city centre to a safer part of town.
He made the call during his visit to the prisons in the company of the Executive Secretary of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), Prof Bem Angwe, the senator representing Enugu North senatorial district, Senator Chuka Utazi and other members of the commission.
The delegation from the commission was in Enugu on an inspection tour of the facility to ascertain its condition and level of compliance with basic human rights.
Ugwuanyi noted that at the time the prison was built in 1915, the present location was then regarded as the outskirts of the city, adding that it has now become the city centre as a result of development and urbanisation, thus making it unsafe and inconvenient for both the public and the prison officials.
The governor said the visit was timely in view of the recent spate of jailbreaks across the country, noting that it would “help provide insights into the immediate and remote causes of these incidents and also provide answers as to how such occurrences can be prevented in future.”
He said it was expedient to decongest the prison given that it had gone far beyond its capacity, and lauded the officials of the NHRC on their goal to secure justice for inmates who have been on awaiting trial list longer than their offence would have
Earlier in his remarks, Angwe praised the governor’s humanitarian inclinations. “Some governors spend eight years without making a single visit to prison; but you have visited more than once,” he said.
He painted a grim picture of the situation at the prison, pointing out that there are reports of inmates being incarcerated for 10 to 15 years while awaiting trial. He also explained that inmates who were arrested for the offences committed by their relatives, while some died in prison without autopsy being conducted to ascertain the case of their deaths.
He pleaded with the governor to help ease the problem of congestion by building additional blocks in the prison’s premises and thanked him for respecting the rights of citizens in the state.