Tales of horror, deaths at Ogwashi-Uku Prison
The sight of the Ogwashi-Uku medium security prison is a depressing one to behold for a correctional centre. Sited in the headquarters of Aniocha South Local Government Area of Delta State, it is the biggest correctional facility in Aniocha-Oshimili Federal Constituency, including Asaba, the state capital.
The inmates are living through the worst possible conditions any human could be subjected to: Starvation and disease, resulting in unnecessary deaths.The man, who opened the can of worms allegedly emanating from the prison, Gwamnishu Harrison, a former awaiting trial inmate, put the number of deaths at over 1,000 inmates since 2013 due to various illnesses.
Gwamnishu, founder of Behind Bars Intervention, said he is playing the role of a whistleblower to draw attention to the plight of the inmates by calling on the Federal Government to declare an health emergency in all correctional facilities in the country, including Ogwashi-Uku prisons, to stop the preventable deaths.
Gwamnishu, who said many inmates are sick and dying, also sounded the alarm on the alleged death of an inmate due to negligence by prison authorities, describing it as one too many. He said despite desperate efforts by the prison authorities at cover up happening inside the prison walls, the latest incident calls for an investigation.
“Smart Ohuzu, an awaiting trial inmate had been sick for two months. Fellow inmates begged the prison authorities to take him to the hospital until he collapsed, then the prison authorities called on the cell leader to gather N5,000 from cell mates so they can take him to Ogwashi-Uku General Hospital
“Some prisoners contributed N10, others brought N20 and N50 denominations and managed to raise N3,500, which got the prison officials angry. On getting to the hospital, the doctors scolded the prison officials for bringing the inmate at the point of death as they had done on several occasions in the past and referred him to the Federal Medical Centre (FMC), Asaba.”He alleged that rather than take Ohuzu to FMC Asaba, “they put the chains back on the dying inmate and took him to the cell, where he died three hours later.
“The inmates are forbidden to complain about the inhuman treatment and those who dare to do so are tortured and taken to the more horrible cells. My NGO tried to save two sick awaiting trial inmates but they both died and many which the law states are innocent until proven guilty are dying daily due to inhuman treatment and nobody is asking questions.”
Attempts to put the questions to the prison authorities at Ogwashi-Uku has so far proved abortive as the recent incident is said to be under investigation following the visit of the Controller-General of the Nigeria Prison Service (NPS), Ja’afaru Ahmed, to douse tension at the prison generated by Ohuzu’s death.
A lawyer, Sam Iloka, said the prison authorities are overwhelmed by the large number of awaiting trial inmates and called for decongestion of prisons through regular granting of pardon and quick dispensation of justice in the state.
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