Wednesday, September 7, 2011


Uchenna Anozie, Nigeria

Nigerian Prisons
Presently, there are a total of 145 convict prisons, 83 satellite prison camps in Nigeria.
According to the Nigerian Prisons Service, the conventional convict prisons are designed as remand for both the convicted and awaiting trial inmates.  There are two major types of convict prisons operational in Nigeria today namely: The maximum and the medium security prisons.  The maximum security prisons take into custody all classes of prisoners including condemned convicts; lifers, long term prisoners etcetera.
Prison Population

 In 1989, the staff strength of the service was 18,000, a decrease from the 23,000 in 1983. By 1976, the average daily prison population was 26,000, a 25 per cent increase from 1975.
 In 1989, Nigeria’s prison population was about 54,000. Lagos State was said to have accounted for the largest number then 6,400. Anambra, Kaduna and Borno had 4,000 each while Ondo, Kwara and Ondo had less than 1000 each.  By 1989, the prison population had reached 58,000.
Admission of inmates increased to 130,000 in 1980 and 206,000 in 1984 and subsequent years.

The Nigerian Prison system was supposed to exist with the full complement of legal, vocational, educational, religious and social services but the situation has remained pathetic. There is the absence of classification of prisoners as in young and old, pre-trial detainees, first time offenders and suspects who committed minor offences as they shared the prison facilities with dangerous criminals or second time offenders 
Recently, the Comptroller-General of Nigerian Prisons Service, Olusola Ogundipe, said some of the 47, 682 prison inmates across the nation’s prisons had spent 17 years in detention without trial.
Speaking at a one-day quarterly roundtable on prison reform, Ogundipe stated that as at July 31, 2010, the total prisoners’ population was 47, 628. Out of the number, only 13,000 or 23 per cent were convicted persons while 34,328 or 77 per cent are awaiting trial. “It may interest you to know that up to 50 per cent of these ATPs have been on remand for between 5 and 17 years without their cases being concluded.“Ikoyi prison has an original capacity for 800 persons. Today, the population is 1,900. Out of this number, only 24 prisoners are convicts. Port Harcourt Prison has an installed capacity for 804 persons. Today, the prison locks up 2, 924 persons out of which only 117 persons are convicts.

According to him, Awka Prisons with an installed capacity for 238 persons presently accommodates 486 inmates out of which 21 are convicts.


Hard facts on HIVAIDS/STI situation in Nigerian prisons
1.                   Prison populations are predominantly male and most prisons are male-only institutions, including the prison staff. In such a gender exclusive environment, male-to-male sexual activity (prisoner-to-prisoner and guard-to-prisoner) is frequent. The actual frequency reported to deaf authorities of instances is likely to be much higher than what is reported mainly due to continual denial, fear of being exposed or the criminalization of sodomy and homosexuality.
2.                   While much of the sex among men in prisons is consensual, rape and sexual abuse are often used to exercise dominance in the culture of violence that is typical of prison life. Inmate rape, including male rape, is considered one of the most ignored crimes. Sexual and physical abuse in custody remains a tremendous human rights problem.
3.                   The sero prevalence of Human Immunodefiency Virus [HIV] infection among male inmates in Kuje prison, Abuja- Nigeria was determined. Two hundred sera specimens from the prison inmates were tested using 3 different test kits. Of 200 samples tested 12 [6%] had HIV-1 antibodies. The highest prevalence of HIV antibodies was found in the age group of 10-20 years [7.1%]. This was followed by the age group of 21-30 years [6.8%] while the least [4.0%] was observed among those aged 41-50 years. HIV among inmates particularly the young was high. This research was done by Muhammad Tauwal Usman, Dr. Baba and Thilza.
4.                   In 2010 Lawrence N. Chigbu1 and Christian U. Iroegbu conducted a study to determine transmission of Mycobacterium tuberculosis within the prison environment. In total, 168 Aba Federal prison inmates in Nigeria were evaluated for tuberculosis (TB) by sputum-smear microscopy and sputum culture, simultaneously, and for HIV status by serology. They were subsequently followed up for one year for fresh Mycobacterium-associated infection by tuberculin skin testing or for development of TB and for HIV infection or AIDS. Ninety-one (54.2%) of the 168 prison inmates had infection due to Mycobacterium, and three (3.3%) of them were sputum-smear- and culture-positive while 41 (24.4%), including one (2.4%) with concomitant TB, were HIV-infected. In a one-year follow-up study, 11 (19.3%) of 57 tuberculin skin test (TST) and HIV-negative inmates became TST-positive and one (1.8%) HIV-positive, eight (13.8%) of the 58 TST-positive but HIV-negative inmates developed TB, and one (1.7%) became HIV-infected: six (24.0%) of 25 TST- and HIV-positive inmates developed TB while five (33.3%) of 15 TST-negative but HIV-positive inmates became TST-positive, and one (6.7%) progressed to AIDS. The duration of imprisonment did not influence the rates of infection, and the transmission of Mycobacterium tuberculosis did not necessarily require sharing a cell with a TB case.
5.                   On the 27th July 2011, it was announced that six inmates of Federal Prisons, Owerri, have reportedly died of the dreaded HIV/AIDS pandemic, while 12 others have been confirmed to be carrying the virus. The prison’s Nursing Officer, Mr. Mike Anyanwu, a superintendent of prisons, said this when the Chief Judge of Imo State, Hon. Justice Benjamin Ahanonu Njemanze, carried out a jail delivery session in the establishment. “We have recorded six deaths arising from HIV/AIDS in Owerri Prisons. Twelve other inmates have been confirmed as carriers of the dreaded virus,” Anyanwu said. He said more inmates might be infected and pointed out that there were no anti-retroviral drugs for such patients in the prison. Addressing the court in the case involving Chinaenye Onyeneho, who is suffering from a terminal disease, the Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Chief Soronnadi Njoku, urged the court to order that the inmate be transferred to the Federal Medical Centre, Owerri, for treatment.

1.                   There is need to provide access to HIV prevention, care, treatment and support in prison settings in Nigeria. The first step to the development of adequate HIV prevention, treatment, and care programmes in prisons is to build, better knowledge of the situation, better knowledge of the extent of the problem, and identification of needs to address these problems.  
2.                   There is a need for a combination of sero-prevalence (surveillance surveys) and behavioral studies (knowledge, attitude, behavior and practice studies) to gather data on: (a) HIV prevalence in prison communities, (b) the patterns and nature of sexual behavior in Nigerian prisons, and (c) perceptions and attitudes towards HIV of prison populations, prison staff, and partners/families of the incarcerated. These baseline assessments should be collaborative efforts, conceivably involving UNAIDS, ILO, WHO, UNFPA, UNICEF, the World Bank, other interested multilateral and bilateral donors, Nigerian prison administrations, and international and local nongovernmental organizations (NGOs).
3.                   National HIV/AIDS guidelines and those on prison management should be reviewed to determine if and how they can realistically address the issue of HIV in prison populations. HIV prevention, care, and treatment in prisons should be part of the National AIDS Strategic Plan.
4.                   Networks should be developed to engage those who know how and those who can do better (e.g. by establishing a network of prison management across the country); promote dialogue and collaboration with national AIDS committees and local and international NGOs working on HIV issues; and promote the activities of human rights and advocacy groups, and civil society at large.
5.                   Legal reforms should be promoted, including those related to the penal codes of individual to develop alternatives to imprisonment as well as to deal with the access to health care in prison in general, and to evidence based HIV prevention and treatment in particular.
6.                   Peer-based education on condom use and reduction of violence (i.e. conflict prevention tools) among prisoners and prison staff.
7.                   Prisoners should have access to confidential voluntary counselling and testing.  No prisoner should be discriminated or segregated on the basis of his or her HIV sero-prevalence.


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