At least, 32 prison inmates died in one year in one particular prison in Lagos owing to their inability to access funds for good medication and drugs, the Lagos State Controller of Prisons, Mr. Olumide Tinuoye, has disclosed.
He made this known yesterday when the Prerogative of Mercy Committee led by the state Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr. Adeniji Kazeem, visited the Ikoyi and Kirikiri Prisons on a fact-finding mission to access and have a first-hand information of the conditions under which the inmates live.
The visit of the committee was also intended to determine what measures could be taken to decongest the facilities, which are presently over-populated.
According to Tinuoye, the prisons also lost one female inmate to death last month after being on dialysis for over two years.
He said often times, prison officials used their personal money to buy drugs for the inmates while others live on the philanthropic gestures of churches and mosques, which had been assisting to provide medication for the inmates.
The state Controller of Prisons stated that there were 7,714 in all the prisons across the state; 6,047 of them were awaiting trials, 1,390 convicted, 202 already condemned while 75 were serving life sentences.
He stated that for instance, Ikoyi prisons which had a capacity of 800 presently has a total of 2,508 inmates, 461 of which were convicted while Kirikiri Medium prisons with a capacity of 1,700 has 2,979 inmates out of which 2,634 were awaiting trials while 345 were convicted inmates.
The Attorney General, Kazeem, while answering questions from journalists after the visit, disclosed that there was hope in the horizon for the inmates as the government had set up a committee headed by the Director, Office of the Public Defender (OPD), Mrs. Salami, to review the cases of awaiting trials with a view to ensuring that the inmates did not continue to stay in prison unjustly or die in the process of waiting.
Kazeem, who said he had taken note of the drug situation of the clinics in the various prisons, promised to seek the support of the state’s Ministry of Health for provision of drugs to the sick inmates.
He emphasized the need for the federal government to show more interest in the prisons and to work out a system to assists those who were sick, particularly to prevent an epidemic like meningitis likely to be occasioned by severe heat currently being experienced in the state.
“We don’t want to experience a prison break in Lagos, The prisons is supposed to reform inmates and not to make them want to make them want to break out on the account of ill-health”, he said.