Suswam’s verdict: Nigerian leaders should spend two days in prison

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Senator Gabriel Suswam (PDP Benue Northeast) has advocated that all Nigerian political leaders should spend two days in prison to appreciate challenges of Nigeria Correctional Service.

This came up during the debate of a motion on the need to upgrade, decongest and disinfect correctional centres nationwide, sponsored by Senator Uche Ekwunife (PDP Anambra).

But Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, interjected by saying those former governors and their deputies should be the ones to spend the two days in prison.

Sen. Ibrahim Gobir (Sokoto East), who also contributed to the debate, said correctional service centres in Nigeria were `colleges for hardened criminals’.

Contributing further to the motion, Suswam said his two days stay in the Kuje Prison gave him a lot of experience about the sorry state of Nigerian prisons.

According to him, all Nigerian leaders should spend two days at the correctional centres to have an experience of the state of the centers and state of inmates.

“I want to support this motion based on my experience and when I left, I recommended that for people to be proper leaders in this country, at least each and every one of us must spend one or two days in prison,” Suswam said.

He was, however, interjected by the presiding officer, Ahmad Lawan, who said: “Anyone who served as a governor, yes and deputy governor probably.”

But Suswam continued: “Like what the former Minister, Abba Moro, said earlier: “I went there, they took me there in the night. The following day in the morning, the entire prison knew I was there.

“I sat down there from morning to evening because there were a lot of young people there and it might interest you to know that they spend years in prison, their demeanour, you can’t easily dismiss.

“There was a young man who has spent 10 years there for just a problem of N10,000. Various individuals were there on very minor offences that the police can afford to correct them and send them home.

“I made it a point of duty that when I left that place, for the next one month, I took close to 20 young people out of that place. It didn’t take anything, just pay the money and send them back to court.

“I selected three lawyers whom I sent to Kuje Prison. Most of the people that are there don’t need to be there and they unduly congest the place,” Suswam added.

Senator Ibrahim Gobir (Sokoto East) said the prisons had over the years, been a ground where criminal gangs were formed.

“It is college for criminals. People become hardened criminals. Prisons are owned by government and the correctional centres should be owned by individuals,” Gobir said.

“If we can improve them to be well secured and well rehabilitated, it will be a good development,” Gobir added.

Senator Rochas Okorocha (APC Imo) said Nigeria prison demonstrated the worst kind of man’s inhumanity to man and should be addressed.

The senate in its resolution resolved that the federal government should encourage private participation in the development of correctional centres across the country.

It urged the Ministry of Interior to commence the process of upgrading facilities in the Nigeria correctional centres.

It also urged the correctional services to adequately profile inmates and separate them accordingly to avoid lumping of light/first offenders with hardened criminals.

The senate also urged the service to undertake a national clean up and fumigation of all correctional facilities in the country to avoid outbreak of epidemics.

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