Inmates at the Nigerian Federal Custodial Centre at Ogwashi-Uku in Delta State have protested against one of their counterparts, Mr Godspower Ikoro, popularly known as ‘General-Marshal’ for his alleged high-handedness and violation of their human rights and the provisions of the Nigerian Correctional Services Act 2019.
SaharaReporters gathered that the protest was held on Friday, September 16, 2022.
The inmates are also calling for his transfer to any other prison facility as he has been accused of terrorising other inmates. The position – General-Marshal– is meant for the most senior inmate by tradition and the promotion of inmates’ welfare in the custodial centre but is not backed by any written law in Nigeria.
Sources at the prison facility told SaharaReporters that Ikoro, a fellow inmate was not appointed as the ‘General Marshal’ of the Federal Custodial Centre Ogwashi-Uku in 2020 because he was the oldest inmate.
According to one of the sources, Ikoro was appointed into the position by a former Deputy Controller of Correction (DCC), Frank Okonkwo and later retained by DCC Sunday Oyakhire, the current in-charge of the custodial centre.
“The angry inmates were protesting against the high-handedness of Mr. Ikoro Godspower which has led to massive oppression of inmates, poor water supply, subjecting inmates to slavery and servitude including 24-hour lock-up in overcrowded and congested cells, poor welfare for disease ravaged inmates and inmates with unsound mind, inflicting corporal punishment on inmates, impersonation of warders, assumption of false authority, imposing of illegal fines on inmates, violation of human dignity, abuse of the rights of inmates, enforcing Islamic religion on inmates, instigating constant raiding of inmates’ cells to confiscate their petty properties,” said one the sources.
SaharaReporters gathered that the protest started from Cell 6 at about 9:25 am where Awaiting Trial Inmates (ATM) were sighted, chanting a protest song as they went to the Keeper’s office and other inmates in the congested 5 cells under 24-hour lock-up, sang with them in solidarity.
“This development, however, prompted the Keeper, Mr Friday Okwudibia, SOJ to put a call across to the armed squad who immediately put the situation under control by firing several gunshots before the arrival of the in-charge, DCC Sunday Oyakhire and the situation was finally put under control,” a source said.
Checks have revealed that the DCC Oyakhire, in charge of the custodial centre had given absolute powers to Mr. Ikoro to the extent that even the warders attached to the facility have no say in his matter.
“He claimed to be the 2-IC of the custodial centre and this necessitated the protest and calls for his immediate transfer to another prison where he will serve and complete his remaining time,” said an inside source.
In 2016, an ex-soldier and seven other suspected kidnappers were sentenced to 104-year imprisonment by a Delta State High Court sitting in Kwale, for the abduction of a former Speaker of the state House of Assembly, Mr. Monday Igbuya in 2009.
The Public Relations Officer, Delta State Ministry of Justice, Ivovi Aruoriwo in a statement in 2016, listed the names of the convicted persons as Godspower Ikoro, Godspower Omoniyi (an ex-soldier), Ernest Atteh, John Adapamu, Ife Freedom, Sunday Uba Tiemo, Kemi Koinyang and Isaiah Mumbor.
Igbuya was kidnapped on May 21, 2009, at Sapele, the administrative headquarters of Sapele Local Government Council; but was later released by his abductors six days later on May 27.
The statement said the late Justice O. Jaloggo-Williams had found the eight accused persons guilty on two counts of kidnapping and demanding property with menace, and subsequently sentenced them to 10 years each with hard labour for kidnapping, and three years each for demanding N100 million.
Meanwhile, efforts to get the reaction of the DCC, Sunday Oyakhire were not successful as his phone indicated that it was switched off.
The Controller of Correction, Delta State Command, Mr Ovie Friday Esezobor, did not answer calls from SaharaReporters on his mobile phone. He also did not reply to a text message sent to him.