The Nigerian Correctional Service (NCoS) has said that the essence of staging pageantry at the Kirikiri Correctional Centre was “never to glamourise or make a hero out of criminality”.
The NCoS in a statement signed by Controller of Corrections (PRO), OF Enobore, MNIPR, min, said it views concerns raised in some quarters on the issue with deep regrets, particularly the unintended interpretations it has elicited from different quarters.
The statement title: Re: Pageantry in Kirikiri Correctional Centre noted that psychosocial engagements have traditionally been part of the Service’s inmates’ treatment regimes designed to provide emotional stability needed to promote total well-being and enhance safe custody.
“It would be recalled that several celebrities and internationally recognised artists such as Sam Okposu, Onyeka Owenu, Pasuma, Denrele, Lamboginny, to mention but a few, have carried out lavish concerts in the male custodial centres in Kirikiri and Ikoyi to celebrate with the inmates irrespective of their status.
“In the year 2000 to be specific, Channels Television covered a musical concert for male inmates in Ikoyi Custodial Centre where Dr Sola Fosude, the Head of Department, Art & Music, Lagos State University praised the performance of the inmates and commended the personnel for their effort. The intendment has never been to glamourise or make a hero out of criminality”, the NCoS stated.
The NCoS insists that beyond the venial of entertaining criminals and suspects alike, such events provide avenues for generating actionable intelligence to address some knotty issues under investigation and the intelligence community has severally benefitted from this service.
“The beauty pageantry in question was one out of the series of events that featured competition in dancing, singing, bead making, costume design etc. Other prizes were won by other inmates equally facing charges for heinous crimes. Aside from creating a relaxed atmosphere for the inmates, the prizes do not bestow any right or privilege on any of the contestants. Moreover, the event was for internal consumption within the custodial environment and never meant to be given wide publicity”.
On insinuation that male prisoners are deliberately kept in squalor, compared to the female custodial centres generally adjudged to be exceptionally clean. The service said: ” It is no longer news that females account for less than 1.5% of the total inmates’ population of about 70,000 in the country. Therefore, overcrowding and attendant chaos are exclusively found in male custodial centres due to pressure on the infrastructure.
“The NCoS is quite sensitive to the plight of victims and their families and will never do anything to undermine this. The Service believes that controlled social engagements do not interfere with trial of cases in court as activities within custodial centres have no bearing with the evidence needed for cases to be tried”, the Service stated.