Group bemoans deplorable state of Nigerian prisons


The Nigerian prison system is not reformatory, the group said.

A group, Mental Health Foundation, has expressed concern over the absence of adequate rehabilitation facilities in the nation’s prisons.

The Chief Executive Officer of the organization, Emmanuel Owoyemi, expressed the concern in Lagos.

Mr. Owoyemi noted that most of the prisons lacked the basic educational and rehabilitation facilities to ensure effective reform process of the inmates.

He spoke against the background of the statistics recently released by the Nigerian Prison Service that 750 inmates in the nation’s 235 prisons were suffering from mental disorders.

The prison authorities had said, “Out of the 750 inmates with mental disorders, 250 are psychotic- a loss of contact with reality that usually includes hallucination.

“500 are said to be neurotic- a functional disorder in which feelings of anxiety, obsession thoughts, compulsive acts, and physical complaints without objective evidence of disease, dominate the personality.”

Mr. Owoyemi attributed the high rate of mental illnesses among the inmates to the deplorable state of the prisons.

He lamented that Nigeria prison system is not reformatory.

“We just put large crowd of people in a very small space where they are all there chocking up and dying. People come out of our prisons worse than they went in.

“Because there is no structured educational system there or, any form of rehabilitation that is being done in our prisons. “Environment affects people’s psychology. When people live in dirty environment, in an enclosed place with a lot of people; you have to be like that every day.

“You are not going anywhere; you are not even sure when you are going out; awaiting trial for years. So, there is high level of hopelessness,” Mr. Owoyemi said.

Mr. Owoyemi said the Nigerian prison system is inhuman and is an enabler of psychological problem.

“Prisons in Nigeria is like death sentence; is like you are going to prison to go and die; you are condemned and you have more people in our prisons than the prisons can accommodate.

“So, why would they not have mental problem?” he asked.

He advised the Federal Government to build more prison facilities for prisoners to be more comfortable and live healthily and free of psychological problems.

“Government should try and see prisons in overseas, how neat it is, how beautiful. They should come and repeat the same thing here.

“Billions of budgets go into prisons every year. Our government should wake up. The prison we are having that is old and even lunatic in outlook is destroying our people; it’s not helping them to regain sanity,” he said.





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