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Cablegate: Nigeria: Prisons Conditions at Kiri Kiri

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 LAGOS 000598

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE, BUT UNCLASSIFIED
STATE PASS DRL

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PHUM PGOV SOCI KOCI CASC NI
SUBJECT: NIGERIA: PRISONS CONDITIONS AT KIRI KIRI

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: On February 19, POLOFF and LEGATT met with
prison officials of the Lagos State Command and interviewed
detainees awaiting trial at Kiri Kiri Medium Security Prison.
Officials and prisoners alike highlighted problems with
overcrowding, healthcare, and poor record keeping. They
complained of NPS's lack of resources and the judiciary's
inability to process detainees, many of whom have been
awaiting trial for up to sixteen years. Poor police
investigative techniques, the use of arbitrary detention, and
malfeasance also present problems. Fraud, waste, and abuse
of prison resources are common among prison officials. NGOs,
not the federal government, provide aid and support. As a
result of these conditions, prisoners rioted recently in
Lagos. No AMCITS are known to be held at Kiri Kiri Medium
Security Prison. END SUMMARY.

-------------------
OVERCROWDED PRISONS
-------------------

2. (SBU) The Lagos State Command of the National Prison
Service (NPS) has a capacity of 2,795 prisoners in its five
facilities. NPS officials stated they are housing a total of
4,911 prisoners in Kiri Kiri Maximum Security, Kiri Kiri
Medium Security, Kiri Kiri Women's, Badagry, and Ikoyi
Prisons. The Lagos prison system is at 175% capacity. The
most acutely overcrowded are Kiri Kiri Medium and Ikoyi
Prisons. Kiri Kiri Medium Security has a capacity for 740
inmates, but holds approximately 1,259 inmates -- 170% of its
capacity. Built to house 800 prisoners, Ikoyi Prison now
holds 2,105 -- 263% of its capacity. In contrast, Badagry
Prison, which has a 300-prisoner capacity, is under utilized.

3. (SBU) The press reports over 2500 cases of scabies, 800
asthmatics, and 300 cases of tuberculosis in the Lagos prison
system. The HIV/AIDS rate is believed high and screening for
the disease is irregular at best. Limited AIDS awareness and
education is received by prisoners and anti-retroviral drug
treatment is rare. Narcotics use is common and undermines
disease prevention efforts. Each prisoner is given a ration
of 150 naira ($1.11) per day, which prison officials deem
inadequate, believing 500 naira ($3.70) would be needed. As
a result, most prisoners are malnourished and rely on family
members to supplement their food rations.

4. (SBU) Children are also incarcerated with adults and
subjected to the same health risks. NPS officials and
prisoners told POLOFF that the police often bring teenage
boys into Kiri Kiri Medium Security Prison and falsify their
age with fraudulently obtained court documents. Prisoners
stated that 40 to 50 children are erroneously housed at Kiri
Kiri Medium Security Prison due to this practice. They claim
the police have threatened the children with death if they
reveal their true age to prison officials. Ikoyi Prison,
which has a separate juvenile facility, is so overcrowded
that children regularly interact with adult prisoners.

----------------
PRISONER WELFARE
----------------

5. (U) Regina Akpan, an NPS official in charge of prisoner
welfare, told POLOFF she could not provide services for the
prisoners without the assistance of NGOs and that federal
funding of the prisons was inconsistent and incapable of
sustaining even existing programs. She said NGOs such as
Prisoners Rehabilitation and Welfare Action (PRAWA), the
Civil Liberties Organization, Life Link Organization, and the
Catholic Secretariat provided numerous programs and services.
Family contact facilitation, recreational activities,
spiritual counseling, legal services and various educational
and training opportunities are available through these
groups. Some of these programs include adult literacy
classes, health education, hair dressing/braiding classes,
and tailoring classes. Computer training is also provided,
but Akpan said classes have been put on hold as electrical
spikes from the local power supply, worsened by the lack of
surge protectors or uninterrupted power supply terminals,
have damaged their equipment.

-----------------------
DEFUNCT JUDICIAL SYSTEM
-----------------------

6. (SBU) There is no little process in the Nigerian criminal
justice system. A survey, by the National Human Rights
Commission in September 2003 of all Nigerian prisons, found
23,335 awaiting trial within the system, 4,244 of which are
in Lagos State. H. D. Kess Momoh, the Controller of Prisons
for Lagos State, told POLOFF approximately 60% of all inmates
are detainees awaiting trial. PRAWA, an advocacy NGO that
also provides training and aid to prisoners, estimates that
over 80% of detainees are awaiting trial for periods ranging
from three to sixteen years. Many have already been
incarcerated beyond the maximum penalty for the crime of
which they are accused. Overcrowding is due to many factors,
but mainly to the common police practice of arbitrary
detention. In the vicinity of a crime, it is not uncommon
for the police to make mass arrests and identify potential
suspects from those detained at a later date. Bribery and
extortion are often involved, as police officers demand
bribes to release prisoners, regardless of guilt. As a
result, it is the poor who suffer the most from these
practices.

7. (U) Irrespective of guilt or innocence, the judiciary
further slows the process. Record keeping is poor and
antiquated. POLOFF observed prison officials typing records
on old typewriters, using carbon paper, and haphazardly
storing their work in a cupboard with 12 cubbyholes. No
records were placed in separate folders and no filing system
could be discerned. For some prisoners, the GON does not
know why they are incarcerated, as their case files have been
lost. Others have repeatedly gone to court for their initial
arraignments, only to have their cases continued -- usually
without explanation. NPS officials and prisoners alike
stated the greatest hindrance in the judicial system is the
lack of transport trucks known as "black Marias." Two "black
Marias" are used in the Lagos State Prison Command to take
prisoners to the various Lagos courts. Each has a capacity
to hold 15 to 20 persons -- inadequate for the Lagos State
Prison Command's needs. Many prisoners are, therefore,
unable to meet court dates, further delaying the judicial
process.

------------
PRISON RIOTS
------------

8. (U) On February 7 prisoners at Ikoyi Prison rioted for
two days over the death of an HIV positive inmate who died
after waiting nine years for his case to come to court.
Mobile police later secured the prison. During the riots,
prisoners burned down the medical storeroom. Prisoners were
protesting their conditions and the lack of due process in
the judiciary. They were not provided basic items such as
soap, blankets, and mattresses. Nor were the prisoners
afforded basic health care. When the prisoners burnt down
the storeroom, it reportedly housed these supplies that had
not been distributed to the population. A similar riot broke
out in June 2003 at Kiri Kiri Medium Security Prison,
resulting in several deaths.

----------------------------
THE LONG WAIT OF UNCERTAINTY
----------------------------

9. (SBU) POLOFF interviewed three prisoners at Kiri Kiri
Medium Security Prison. Each was being held on charges of
suspected robbery. Ignatius Ani has been awaiting trail for
11 years and has never appeared in court since his arrest.
Joseph Ody has never appeared in court and has been in
custody for 6 years. Gabriel Onu, held in custody for 4
years, has been to court nine times within the past year. He
has not been arraigned. His arraignment has been continued
each time because the individual he was arrested with does
not have legal representation. The prisoners said they knew
of many individuals who have had their arraignments postponed
18 to 20 times and they railed against the failings of the
judiciary. Their greatest complaint was the lack of "black
Marias" and they faulted the government for not providing
them with their opportunity to be heard in court. They also
pointed out poor practices and treatment by the police. Each
of the men described their conditions as poor, but believed
that prison officials were providing them with as many
resources as they were able.

10. COMMENT: The three prisoners hold the position of
"provost" within the prison, meaning that they are the bosses
of their cellblocks. One of the prisoners was well dressed
and displayed an expensive watch. Corruption by prison
officials has been reported in the press, such as smuggling
contraband to prisoners and diverting prison funds. It is
likely these provosts profit from their good relations with
prison officials, which may reflect the lack of criticism of
their keepers. Despite prison corruption, the glaring
problem of prison overcrowding remains. The police and
judiciary have shown themselves to be ill-equipped, grossly
inefficient, and derelict in their duties. The criminal
justice system is chaotic and in dire need of reform. END
COMMENT.
HINSON-JONES

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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