*authority denies allegation, says staff receive pay from CBN
Top executives of the Nigeria Prisons Service have been accused of diverting funds meant for the renovation of the facilities across the country, as well as engaging in illegal deductions from salaries of employees.
AUTHENTIC News Daily gathered these from sources who pleaded anonymity, because some of them were still serving while the pensioners also craved anonymity to avoid victimization.
Funds being allegedly diverted include loans which are being over deducted, as well as irregularities in the Prisons’ pension scheme.
One of our sources, who is a senior officer at the Kaduna Central Convict Prison said that some colleagues complained of going through the same issue of illegal deductions from their salaries.
“They promote staff and for years, the new salary and allowances are not implemented. Besides that, monies are deducted from staff without us knowing what they are deducting for,” one of our sources said.
A pensioner who was very sad about the way they were being treated said that those who have retired are even going through harder times than those still in service.
He alleged that the Prisons Cooperative (PRISCO) which is expected to cater for them is performing far below expection, a development that is causing untold hardship for those who had served their fatherland with all their resourceful years.
He appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari and the Minister of Interior, General Abdulrahman Dambazau (rtd) to look into their matter urgently, explaining that he is suspecting fraudulent activities.
“We call on our President, who has shown a strong resolve in ensuring that justice is done in all parts of Nigeria, in looking into our issue, because we have no one else to complain to,” he appealed.
Only recently, the Minister of Interior, was said to have disclosed that the Federal Government was spending about 14,000 Naira in feeding each prisoner on a daily basis, a statement he has not clearly come out to debunk.
If that is actually the amount being spent on each prisoner, it means there is even a bigger fraud taking place from the top Prisons executive.
A journalist who spent seven days within the walls of the Kaduna Convict Prison disclosed that from his estimation, no prisoner is being fed with up to N200 daily within that facility, but cannot tell if other facilities are different.
He said that most mornings, breakfast is made of grinded maize which is made into kunu (porridge) which cannot be worth up to N30 if being bought outside the walls of the prison.
“In the afternoon, the lunch is usually rice, with stew made of soya beans, at times with a tiny piece of meat or fish which at most would cost about N80 outside the prison walls. When it is not rice, it is eba with the same soya beans soup, which would not be worth more than N60 outside.
“At nights, mostly it is tuwo masara (corn meal) with soya beans soup and vegetable, which at most would be worth about N80 outside the prison walls. Some mornings, it is beans that is served, which outside would not be worth more than N50,” Mr. Jacob Onjewu Dickson, explained.
He explained that if the government was really spending such amount on prisoners, it would have been better if it was monetized and each prisoner would have an account he is feeding from, which after his term, what he consumed would be calculated and the balance handed to him to start up something useful.
When asked about the condition of the prison, he said that unlike what many believe, not a single mosquito bit him throughout his stay there.
“On the efforts at ensuring that the environment was free of pests and undesired insects, I would score the Kaduna Prison officials 99 per cent. Eve in the comfort of my home I battle to get rid of mosquitoes but in the prison, I did not see even one, a good one for the authority.
“But I observed that other aspects of the facility need urgent attention. The areas are the sewer pits which are left open. When passing beside one, you don’t need to make any effort before seeing what is inside,” he disclosed.
When contacted to react to the allegations on phone, spokesman of the Nigerian Prisons Service, Francis Enoborhe denied the allegations that the authority were deducting from staff salaries, explaining that salaries are paid by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
He said that PRISCO is a cooperative society, which all staff are automatically members, because of the benefits they derive from membership.
“The benefits of PRISCO cut across all staff. They have easy access to loans. It is run by well coordinated staff, led by a dedicated senior officer,” he explained.
He recalled that recently, the issue of PRISCO came up when the Controller-General was at the House of Representatives and he was able to clear the air on it.
“However, there are other smaller cooperatives within fewer members of staff. Such cooperatives are run independently by their members and the Service is not aware of problems that may arise from them, but there were times that the Controller-General had to intervene to broker peace,” he added.
Reacting to the issue of decay of some prison facilities, he said that prisons in the country were being overstretched beyond their carrying capacity, a development that is seriously affecting the physical structures, as well as the human capital.
“For instance, Kaduna Prison has an installed capacity of a little over 500 inmates, but I learnt it currently accommodates nearly 1000. Such burden would result to far reaching consequences on infrastructure within the facility. The more extra population, the more pressure on the facility, because we have no right to reject any inmates,” he disclosed.
Commenting further on the facility, he explained that the budgetary allocation to prisons for the year 2015 was ‘horrible’ and prevented the top management from doing much on renovations.
When asked to state the exact amount being spent by government on feeding each prisoner daily, he explained that the Minister of Interior had addressed the issue last week in Abuja, where he told newsmen that he was misquoted by a section of the press in saying that each inmate was being fed with N14,000 daily.
He said that Danbazau categorically refuted that amount, stating the fact that N450 only was being spent on feeding each prison inmate daily.
Enobohre appealed to staff who had been promoted and are not yet receiving full benefits of their new ranks to be patient, as the government would calculate all their entitlements and pay them when funds are available.
“All the payments will be calculated from the date the promotion is effective and paid to all those affected when money is released by government,” he explained.
As it stands, it is apparent that the Nigerian Prison Service could do with more funding from the government, it it were to meet all its obligations of maintaining the country’s only reformative and correctional establishment.