75,000 Prison Inmates Risk Starvation


• Food contractors owed N7.5bn nationwide

By Udora Orizu in Abuja

A non-governmental organisation under the aegis of Alliance for Good Governance and Democracy  has expressed concern over the non- payment of over N5.6 billion outstanding money owed contractors for the food supplied inmates  in prisons nationwide, more than  two years   after the federal government announced increment in the feeding allowance of prison inmates from N200 to N450 (feeding and gas allowance).

The group in a statement signed by its National Coordinator and National Secretary, Shadrack Nwokolo and Jimi Sanwo respectively, and made available yesterday in Abuja   revealed  that after a  thorough investigation of the state and conditions  of prisons across the nation the group  discovered that contractors responsible for feeding of the inmates  are being owed huge sums of monies for the services they  rendered to Nigerian Prisons Service for over two years. 

“There are about 75,000 inmates scattered in the nation  prisons. A lot of prisoners would have been dying on a daily occurrence if not for the kind gesture of these patriotic  contractors who have not relent in supplying foods to the inmates  despite the huge indebtedness by Nigeria Prisons Service (NPS) in the last two  years

 “We gathered that most of the contractors borrowed money from financial institutions with huge interest rates” the group opined   

“We are concerned about the welfare of inmates and that was why we were in the vanguard for the upward review of their daily  feeding allowance from N200 per day  to N450 per day ,  which we still admit to be  grossly inadequate considering the cost of food items in the country.

 “We therefore call  and appeal to our listening President Muhammadu Buhari; the Minister of Interior, Abdulrahman Bello Danbazau,  and the prison authorities for a quick intervention in  the lingering issue  to avert an imminent stoppage of  food supplies to inmates in prisons nationwide. The consequences  may be fatal if something is not done urgently to pay up the backlog of  indebtedness to the contractors.

“It saddened our heart that most of these patriotic contractors are struggling to survive, while some are facing litigations from banks and microfinance outfits where they got loans to service the inmates in Nigeria prisons across the country. Some we gathered have lost their lives because of these huge indebtedness,” it stated.

The group recalled: “In January 2015, the federal government increased feeding allowance for prison inmates from N200 to N300 per prisoner per day excluding allowance for gas which is N150 per inmate per day. The total provision for feeding prisoners in Nigerian Prison is N450 per prisoner per day

It noted that some contractors were paid for the months of January and February 2015, while outstanding payments from June to December 2015 is still pending, same is applicable to  2016 where 60 per cent has been made for some months in 2016.