A mild drama ensued on Friday, when inmates of the Abakaliki Prison In Ebonyi State protested the ban of Indian hemp by the prison authorities.
During the protest, officials had to seal off the FMC Road leading to the prison to mitigate against possible jail break.
The inmates who were demanding for the authorities to rescind their decision however, calmed down when the state Comptroller of Prisons (CP), Adaobi Oputa, held a meeting with their leaders, reports say.
While speaking to reporters after the meeting, Oputa said the inmates were agitating the stoppage of Indian hemp and other contraband goods in the prison.
“I call it agitation. I was in the office when I was called that the inmates are agitating, asking for this, asking for that; and I rushed there and asked them to select two representatives from each cell let me hear from them because we have a way we operate,” Mrs. Oputa said.
“After listening, I discovered some of the things they are agitating for. They are agitating for Indian hemp to be allowed inside their cells and we have stopped that. Secondly, they are asking to be opened out to the prison yard the way they want, even for churches. But you know they are many; 950 inmates and we have rules and regulations which I have told them.
“We cannot open them the way they want. They want to choose their provost the way they want. I told them I will come and conduct election for a provost. They are complaining of irrelevant things; they said they don’t want to see some staff. They even said they don’t want to see the Deputy Comptroller of Prison (DCP) and I told them I cannot appoint a DCP. The agitation is normal because the congestion is much.”
The CP said that the incident was under control, adding that prison officers only cordoned off the area as a mere precaution
“It is natural to cordon when there is problem, you segregate, you aggregate. But I have asked them to open the roads to the prisons which were cordoned off. Sometimes, the prison starts agitations when they know something (Indian hemp) is coming for them from outsiders who usually throw in Indian hemp into the fence. So, in this case you have to cordon of everywhere. Most of these agitators are awaiting trials,” she added.