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31.12.2023 Featured INSIDER: Riot Brewing in Ikoyi Prison Over ‘Extortion, Corruption’ by DCP Julius Ogbueri’s

Published 31st Dec, 2023

By Emmanuel Uti

Inmates of Ikoyi Prison are calling for the removal of Julius Ogueri, the deputy controller of the correctional facility, and Ebomuche Anselem, his orderly, for constantly extorting, threatening, and mistreating them.

FIJ learned that long-term inmates fear Ogueri’s heavy-handed approach may lead to a protest, which could lead to the indiscriminate killing of inmates and then be reported as an attempted jailbreak.

Fearing reprisal, an inmate who spoke to FIJ anonymously said that Ogueri had become so brazen in his highhandedness that he openly declared his lack of fear of consequences should the authorities catch him maltreating them.

the authorities did nothing to halt his actions in August, when the elders of the various cells at the Ikoyi Correctional Centre wrote a petition against him and Aliyu Umoru, his former chief warder, to the Minister of Interior.

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In the petition, the inmates accused Ogueri of turning the prison into a profit-making enterprise, coercing inmates to pay substantial sums for accommodation in cells that belong to the federal government. Those who resisted faced threats of death, with Ogueri asserting the right to kill any inmate opposing his directives.

The inmates also decried the deteriorating quality of food compared to the time under the former deputy controller. Ogueri was alleged to have made life unbearable for inmates and officers.

Bright Ochiguzo

The petition, copied to the Department of State Services (DSS), National Human Rights Commission, Abuja and Lagos, Lagos State Government and the National Security Adviser, only resulted in the removal of Umoru through the intervention of the DSS.

“When the DSS came, Ogueri pushed his loyalists, inmates he received bribes from to make them provosts, to respond to their query, and they got confused. Some provosts who petitioned them reached out to the DSS that same day, and they returned the following day to unearth the truth,” he told FIJ.

Julius Ogueri

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“Later on, Ogueri appointed someone else instead of Umoru and did not allow him to work as he should. He made Bright Ochiguzo, the assistant chief warder, more responsible for the implementation of all his illicit activities. We’re facing humiliation from him.”

He further accused Ogueri of diverting the food items, cows and toiletry material meant for the use of inmates for his personal use. He said the food and materials brought in by non-governmental organisations weekly are not remitted, but mostly used by Ogueri.

Even worse, the source said, is that Ogueri, through Ochiguzo, collects N700,000 from new inmates into one room in the prison, N400,000 for another room, and N100,000 for yet another.

“His wife goes to the bank every day to save money without working. Where is she getting the money she saved in the bank? A riot is looming at the Ikoyi Correctional Centre. The inmates are livid this time, and if a riot happens, the prison service would kill inmates like they did on October 22, 2020, and then say there was a jailbreak,” he said.

“He extorts inmates before they go to court. His fellow wardens took inmates to court to pay for fuel before conveying them to their various courts. This has generated a lot of problems within the yard.”

Another prisoner who spoke with FIJ revealed that upon Ogueri’s transfer to Ikoyi Prison, he ousted existing room leaders and appointed new ones who bribed their way into these positions.

He said Ogueri accepted N300,000 from some of the newly appointed room leaders, granting them significant influence and freedom within the prison – a practice starkly at odds with the approach of Dare Ofadeji, the former DCP, who did not tolerate such corruption.

The inmates also accused Ogueri of taking for himself what was meant for the welfare of the prisoners.

“Things were not this bad until Ogueri became our DCP. The quality of our food is so bad that the dogs in our houses would reject it. There are always more than 300 pieces of stone in the beans they give us. The stew is always off,” he told FIJ.

He added that Ogueri resorted to extreme measures, such as locking inmates in single cells after physically assaulting them, particularly if they had conflicts with the prison warders. According to him, Ogueri transfers every daring inmate to Kirikiri.

When FIJ called Rotimi Oladokun, the spokesperson of the Nigerian Correctional Service (NCoS), Lagos Command, for comments, he refused to comment, saying, “I will not comment on an issue I know nothing about.”

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Published 31st Dec, 2023

By Emmanuel Uti

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