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Anxiety as Owerri prison houses 2,253 inmates against 548 carrying capacity

Anxiety as Owerri prison houses 2,253 inmates against 548 carrying capacity

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Chidiebube Okeoma,Owerri

There is anxiety at the Owerri Federal prison facility in Imo State over the number of inmates in custody.

Investigation by our correspondent revealed that the facility which was built to provide shelter for 548 prisoners is now housing an outrageous number of 2,253.

A visit to the facility by our correspondent revealed that the huge number was a cause of worry for the prison workers and high command.

Our correspondent gathered that in order to avert jail break or any security collapse, the authorities of the facility had sought assistance from the Nigerian Army and police respectively.

The development had led to the posting of policemen and soldiers to man the prison entrance gate with an Armoured Personnel Carrier.

Movements and visitors are now restricted in the facility over the congestion.

A prison staff member who does not want his name in print told our correspondent that the development had stressed “the authority to take extra measure in order to avert security collapse.”

Our correspondent gathered that the remand of 74 suspected cultists who were enroute Isiala Mbano Local Government Area of the state from Rivers and 112 pro Biafra women in the faculty skyrocketed the number.

The number, Southern City News investigation revealed, had increased the number of inmates that occupy each cell.

A source in the prison confided in our correspondent that one of the female cells which ordinarily contains 13 inmates now houses as high as 83 inmates.

According to the source, a cell in the male department which was built to accommodate 32 prisoners now houses 79 inmates.

He said that the overwhelming number was affecting the warders who were made to work over time in order to ensure the safety of the inmates and the facilities.

According to the prison officer, the authority was considering moving some inmates to Okigwe prison in order to reduce pressure.

The Public Relations Officer of Owerri Federal Prison, James Madugba, told our correspondent that the authority was trying very well to manage the inmates despite the outrageous number.

Responding to a question from our correspondent, the prison spokesperson said, “Yes, we have 2253 inmates as against 548 carrying capacity. Remember that this prison was built many decades ago. That this prison facility was built many years ago to carry 548 inmates does not mean that new structures have not been built in order to enhance the safety and welfare of the inmates.

“We are trying our best but let it be known that this issue is a national one and not peculiar to Owerri Federal Prison. The authority here is in charge and doing its best to guarantee the safety and welfare of those in our custody.”

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