Authorities of the Edo State command of the Nigerian Prisons Service (NPS) are currently enmeshed in controversies over the alleged murder and burial of two prison inmates.
A 21 year old undergraduate of the University of Benin (UNIBEN), Mr. Ibrahim Momodu was said to have been murdered and buried by authorities of the Prison while under their custody.
Also, the Nigerian Prisons Service, Edo State Command was also alleged to have buried a 35 year old, Toyese Kehinde an inmate of Benin Prisons without the knowledge of his family members.
Toyese, a native of Osun State married with six children was said to have been convicted on August 31, 2013 for two weeks over alleged violation of environmental sanitation law.
A spokesperson for the family, Wale Kehinde who spoke to newsmen in Benin City said he was informed by one of his friend that the deceased convict was arrested on August 31, being the last environmental sanitation day in Edo State by officials of the state ministry of environment and public utilities.
He said his late brother was arrested when he went out to buy something at First Circular road and that was subsequently remanded to two weeks imprisonment by a mobile court wth or an option of N5000.
FrontiersNews recalled that Ibrahim Momodu, a Laboratory Science undergraduate student of the University of Benin was last May allegedly arrested, killed and buried with the assistance of the the Divisional Police Officer (DPO) of Ogida Police station, CSP Carol Afegbai without the knowledge of his family.
Wale Kehinde who added that his brother was a tailor and musician by profession, noted that he ought to have been released from the prison after serving his jail terms.
He however added that worried by the delayed of the non- release of his brother from the prison, one of his friend simply identified as Joshua Samuel on Wednesday went to the prison command at Sapele road to find out what was going wrong.
He said, him was however shocked when he was confronted with a paper by the prison authorities informing him of his death.
The paper document carrying “Nigerian Prisons Service” letterhead with the titled
“Death of Convict No.V 1176, Toyese Kehinde in Charge No.ELG/004/13” addressed to the Coroner, Magistrate Court. Benin City was signed by Assistant Superintendent 11, Admin on behalf of the Deputy Comptroller of Prisons.
According to the letter, I am directed to inform you of the death of the above named convicted prisoner. He died in the early hours of 9th September, 2013 after a protracted illness.
“He was sentenced to two (2) weeks imprisonment or N5000 fine on 31st August, 2013 by Egor Magistrate Court 1, Benin City for failing to observe sanitation exercise. It would be appreciated if you could conduct an inquest and forward the proceedings to this office for onward transmission to the Comptroller General of Prisons Service, Abuja.
“Above for your information, please, the inquest proceeding and death certificate will be forwarded to you as soon as they are ready, please”, it stated.
The family of the deceased however called on Both the federal and state governments to wade into the incident by compelling the prison authorities to exhume the corpse and conduct comprehensive investigations on the circumstance that led to his death in the prison custody.
When contacted, the Public Relations Officer (PRO) of the command, Mr. Sulaiman Aminu said he was yet to be briefed on the incident just as he added that he could not speak on whether the family of the inmates were contacted or not before the deceased were buried.
He added that it was constitutional appropriate to inform relevant authorities including families before the burial of any inmate that died in the prison custody.
He however pleaded for more time to enable him inform his Comptroller on the incident and for a proper investigations to be carried out before making statement on it.