Hassan Innocent (not real name) is an inmate at the medium-security correctional facility in Kirikiri, Apapa, Lagos State.
He is in prison because, according to him, he fell out with a friend, who then got him arrested and charged in court. This court is not ready to hear his case yet.
Yet to be convicted of any crime, he is one of over 51,000 awaiting-trial inmates in the country whose rights are suspended.
“We don’t have enough food or any money here,” Innocent told Newsmen. “The conditions here are bad, but now there are death row and life sentence inmates in the same cells as us. They offer us money to have sex with us, and if we refuse, they assault us.”
Innocent told Newsmen that prison officials recently moved condemned inmates from maximum security to the medium security facility and this led to a rise in sodomy cases.
Newsmen earlier reported how Peter Nielsen, a death row inmate, enjoyed special treatment after he was transferred out of the maximum security prison. Innocent, however, told Newsmen he had not encountered Nielsen and could not say he was one of the inmates taking advantage of others.
“They have nothing to lose,” he said. “If they are caught, they can’t get extended sentences because they are spending life in prison already. Sometimes, they offer us N2,000, sometimes, it is N5,000.
“In the night, when people are sleeping, they go to meet the people they have negotiated with, then they go from behind them to have sex with them through their nyash.
“They negotiate because they cannot openly say they want to take advantage of the boys. But once anyone refuses, they just start beating them anyhow on subsequent days. The truth is that many boys take the offer because there is not enough food. We eat poorly.”
In early December 2023, Haliru Nababa, Controller General of the Nigeria Correctional Service (NCS), told a joint National Assembly Committee on Interior that the NCS spends more to feed dogs than it does to feed inmates.
He said the NCS had a N750 daily budget to feed inmates, while it spent N800 to feed dogs.
He said, “The NCS has written to the Minister of Interior requesting a review of the amount we are using to feed the inmates from N750 per day to N3,000 per day. We are still waiting for approval. We are, therefore, seeking the assistance of the National Assembly to approve the increment.”
Innocent told Newsmen that the inmates were conflicted over addressing the matter, as although some of them were willing to stand up to the death row inmates, others were okay with getting paid.
On Thursday, Newsmen called Rotimi Oladokun, the Correctional Service Public Relations Officer, Lagos Command. He said, “You are just bringing this to my notice. Sodomy is a serious offence in the correctional facility, and anyone caught would face disciplinary action. We will investigate this.”
On Sunday, Newsmen obtained a video of two inmates caught for sodomy. One offered the other N5,000. No wardens could be seen in this video as fellow inmates beat and made the pair dance naked on prison grounds.