ALLEGATIONS of corruption, extortion and cover-ups have continued to trail the Nigeria Correctional Centre (NCS) in Kuje, otherwise known as Kuje Prison.
Inmates or detainees who have had reasons to stay in Kuje prison have recounted tales of woes and bad experiences due to poor welfare.
Kuje prison was established in 1989; it has a minimum and maximum holding cell where inmates are incarcerated.
Kuje Prison is located in the Federal Capital Territory and is famous for holding high profile offenders, including former governours and ministers.
The Chief Whip of the Nigerian Senate, Orji Kalu, and former National Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Olisa Metuh, have spent time in Kuje prison.
Apart from the high number of awaiting trial detainees that is common in Nigerian prisons and poor welfare, allegations of corrupt practices of the officials of NCS in Kuje prison are a reoccurring theme.
A suspended Police Chief, Abba Kyari, alleged he was forced to pay for cable TV for other inmates as a form of protection.
Kyari’s lawyer, Nureini Jimoh, who filed for a review of his client’s bail application, said his client was being subjected to harsh conditions.
“In a bid to mitigate the threats to kill the defendants/applicants, the chief warder advised DCP Abba Kyari and other defendants to advance some goodwill to the inmates by funding renewal of the DSTV subscription in all the cells for two months and make some cash donations to all the inmate’s group leaders as well as the church and mosque. The defendants/applicants complied on 29/03/2022,” Kyari’s affidavit read in part.
Abba Kyari’s accusation is not new in Kuje prison; in 2017, the son of a former minister in the FCT was also alleged to have paid about N500,000 to officers of the NCS to secure a suitable withholding cell.
Also, in 2017, an inmate serving a three-year jail term in Kuje Prison, Ifeanyi Ezenwa, was able to mastermind a multi-million fraud from incarceration.
According to the police, Ezenwa carried out the fraudulent act while in custody.
The ICIR learnt that compromised officers of the NCS aid visitors by smuggling telephones and cannabis into the facility for a fee.
On different occasions, inmates and visitors have been caught with telephones inside the Kuje facility.
A report by a rights organisation in 2008 highlighted some of the corrupt practices in the facility.
Amnesty International had in a report noted that medical and welfare provisions were only available to those who could pay bribes to officials of the Prison.
“All facilities had medical staff and “welfare” officers, personnel charged with safeguarding the well-being of inmates, but prisoners commonly reported that access to staff or medication was available only to those who could afford bribes,” the report read in part.
Cover-up of death
Beyond the extortion and corruption allegations that have characterised the activities of some of the officials of the NCS in Kuje Prison, there have also been allegations of cover-ups of deaths.
In a report by the Foundation for Investigative Journalism (FIJ), the authority of Kuje Prison attempted to cover up the death of an inmate.
According to the report, his body was immediately removed that night, but authorities warned his cellmates against alerting his family.
The Spokesperson for the Nigeria Correctional Service FCT Command, Chukwuedo Humphrey, denied the allegations levelled against Kuje prison.
Speaking to The ICIR via a telephone interview, Humphrey said he was not aware of the incident made by Kyari through his lawyer in his affidavit to the court.
“No inmate will be asked to pay or donate money for another inmate, we do not do that, and we provide medical service to all inmates without any form of gratification,” Humphrey said.
He noted that any officer identified for such activity would be penalised by the authority of the NCS.