A Visit to Ikoyi Prison: The Sad Tale of An Innocent Nigerian Inmate

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By: Oyekanmi Abiodun (Politikz)
Adisa Habeeb

“The universe runs on the principle that one who can exert the most evil on other creatures runs the show.” -Unknown

Without emotions; it saddens me to ink the terrifying predicament of a young hardworking Nigerian father suffering in the hands of a largely dysfunctional socio-political nation.

Nigeria has been regarded by many as where nothing works. Not even the jailhouse. The degradations and rots in Nigeria prison institutions are quite alarming. Ranging from its deplorable facilities, illegal incarceration, poor inmates welfarism, inadequate funding, among a host of others. Without mincing words, the horrible state of Nigeria prisons cannot be overemphasized.

Mr. Adewale [AKA Olorunosebi] is a living witness to the numbing failure of government to deliver the expected fruits of democratic governance.

It was a sunny Wednesday afternoon when we drove into the quiet premises of Ikoyi Prison having scaled through the lame security deposit at the gateway. One of them, looking awfully unkempt made me said to myself; “though, I do not believe in plastic surgery. But in your case, go ahead.” And after filling the required tattered brown visitors register book, our client, Mr. Adewale was brought out to join us at the waiting room.

A forty-two-year old tall stud man, light in complexion, hairy and a typical ‘every woman’s choice’. Mr. Adewale appears clean as a hound’s tooth in emotion and I could see a roaring fire waiting to burn in his red eyes. Quickly I thought to myself; “this is a personifier of bitterness.” What could have brought him here, I wondered. Barrister Falana whom we were together looks weary and uninterested having navigated through the storm of Lagos traffic all day long.

Barrister Falana offered Mr. Adewale a small space to sit on the rough-surface wooden bench just at the corner of the small room. After exchanging pleasantries, Mr. Adewale began to recount the horrifying ordeal of how he became an inmate.

I am happily married and we’re blessed with a baby girl of 1-year and six months old. I used to live with my family in my house at Agric, Ikorodu here in Lagos. And I am a carpenter by profession.

The event that culminated to my sudden incarceration was a miserable one. It all started when my house as well as many others in my community were marked for demolition by the state government agency. The letter that was handed to my wife explained that the reason for the planned demolition was for road expansion and that we have just three months to vacate the building.

I headed out for work the following day without fear nor worry based on the popular mantra; “thank God I’m not the only one”. At work, Pius, my apprentice, at about 3pm brought my phone and my wife was on the line. She was crying so heavily I could barely pick out her words; “…the goovern-ment officials are alreadddy pull-ing down buildings in the neigh-bor-hood o…”.

I raced against time back home, but unfortunately, my 3-room bungalow had already been ‘eaten’. It was a rack and ruin. My world tumbled and crumbled under my watch. I was terrified and my wife was cold as ice. I took her to our pastor’s house while I sought shelter at my friend’s.

It all happened in a flash. For weeks, held several fruitless consultations and meetings were held with the government.

Fast forward two months afterwards, the difficulties and adversities were proliferating. I looked forward to Sabbath days to get the chance of seeing my family. There seemed to be no light at the end of my tunnel. As it darkened every second.

It was the aftermath of this that informed the members of our carpenter’s association to stage a public protest at the government house and House of Assembly. This action brought the issue to the public domain and of course painted the government in bad light. I received a letter of invitation from the government three days later through our association. I was happy like a pig in mud. Perhaps, there is light after all.

The day finally arrived, I went to the government secretariat situated at Ikeja in the company of a friend. Hmmm… Little did I know it will be my last day of freedom. Maybe I would have dress in my best outfit. Maybe, I would have gone to visit my family one last time.

We were lounging at a beautifully decorated waiting-room and after about thirty minutes of delay two armed police officers came in. Without recourse, I was forcefully dragged away and my guess was, my friend was chased out of the premises.

All I knew thereafter was that I found myself in this hell-on-earth godforsaken place WITHOUT SEEING THE FOUR WALLS OF A COURTROOM!! And for two years now, I have not been granted any visitor, not even my wife.

(Deep sigh) Mr. Adewale ended his heartbreaking tale en route to prison. I was full of tears and wrath. I was willing to stick out not only my neck, but my entire body, to do anything to get him out of the inhumane treatment.

Immediately, I recollect the Latin maxim that states; “est iniquitas omnem iniustitiam” (injustice to one is injustice to all).

But all I have is my pen.

Disclaimer: This is a fictional write-up. And no section of it was targeted at any person or institution.

Oyekanmi Abiodun is a 300L student of Political Science, UI and can be contacted through: o.wahriz@gmail.com

Adisa Habeeb is a 300L student of History, UI and can be contacted through: adisahabeeb11@gmail.com

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