I read an exclusive report published by Saharareporters in the evening of yesterday on how 8 inmates were gruesomely murdered by the authorities of Kaduna Prison (now Kaduna Custodial Center and detention facility) built by the colonial masters in 1915. The report broke my heart to pieces because I was once a guest for 162 days in that facility.
Some of the deceased identified by Saharareporters were actually young men I knew back then in jail. They had dreams, they had great plans to pursue after serving their jail terms as majority of them were actually awaiting trial and thus have yet to be proven guilty by the court. As far as the law is concerned they were innocent until proven otherwise.
These young men were allegedly brutally murdered, some shot while some were tortured and left to die slowly in their congested cells without any form of medical attention. This is obviously a typical example of man’s inhumanity to a fellow man, a crime against humanity that should carry grave consequences.
The prison authorities have been working tirelessly since Tuesday to clean up their mess to no avail as the comptroller in charge of Kaduna repeatedly told newsmen according to his interview published on different news websites that there was no casualty during the fracas. The minister of interior also in a tweet on his official Twitter handle “corroborated” the claim when he told the world that there was not a single casualty during the protestation.
Then in the afternoon of yesterday the Comptroller of the Kaduna prisons in his effort to further embolden the conspiracy backtracked on his initial claim that there was no casualty and said that the inmates injured 10 prison wardens during the fracas, an obvious lie to paint the inmates in a bad light.
Except for one or two, all the other deceased have case-mates left in the prison, I therefore wish to call on Human Rights Organizations and other critical stakeholders to carry out a thorough investigation on the circumstances surrounding the murder of the inmates. Autopsy should be conducted and their families contacted as soon as possible since their names have been published online.
To be sure, Nigeria is a signatory to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (commonly known as the United Nations Convention against Torture (UNCAT)) signed in July 1988 by the General Ibrahim Babangida’s regime. The convention is an international human rights treaty, under the review of the United Nations, that aims to prevent torture and other acts of cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment around the world.
The Convention requires states to take effective measures to prevent torture in any territory under their jurisdiction, and forbids states to transport people to any country where there is reason to believe they will be tortured.
The DCP in charge of the facility should be redeployed and probed immediately as this is not the first time awaiting trial inmates have died in the facility. Also, officers who took part in the illegal operation should be tried before a competent court of law.
During my detention in that hell of a facility I witnessed the death of 3 inmates two of whom were awaiting trial, yet I doubt if there was any investigation or their families were informed.
The only known crime commited by those helpless inmates was protesting against the authorities’ admission of a lady they suspected was carrying the coronavirus thereby endangering their life in the congested facility.
May the souls of my friend Baban Lolo, Lucky and the other 6 inmates rest in perfect peace.
Steven Kefason writes from Kaduna Nigeria.