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25.02.2021 news UNCOVERED: How Sodomy and Religion Caused Riot at Kuje Prison

Published 25th Feb, 2021

By FIJ

Yesterday’s riot at the Kuje Medium Security Prison, Abuja, happened because of sodomy and the religious colouration that was ascribed to the authorities’ handling of the matter, FIJ can report.

As reported by FIJ on Wednesday, the riot initially started as fisticuffs between Boko Haram suspects and Christian inmates, but warders soon got involved before they eventually succeeded in quelling it by firing canisters of tear gas into the air.

A source privy to the development told FIJ that the problem started when an Imam of a section called Bomblast (so named after terrorist inmates) was caught committing Sodomy on Tuesday.

READ ALSO: BREAKING: Boko Haram Suspects Clash with Warders, Christian Inmates at Kuje Prison

The Imam was taken to Segregation with the guy he was sodomising, prompting Christian, an inmate in Custody 4 up (awaiting trial mates building), to say that the warders would have taken a more stringent step if a Christian had committed the offence.

“Christian’s pronouncements caused a fight between him and two Muslim inmates. The Muslims said he was abusing their religion,” said the source.

Warders stepped in at about 7pm on Tuesday to take Christian and the two Muslims to Segregation.

However, on Wednesday morning when the prisoners were released from their cell at about 10am, the warders also opened Christian to play around.

“In that process, those Boko Haram inmates attacked him. Other Christian inmates tried to rescue him from them; that was how everything escalated before the warders (armed squad) waded in with teargas canisters.”

FIJ gathered that a certain Mr. Atta, an Assistant Controller General of Correctional Service (ACGCS), was instrumental in calming the inmates down whe he visited.

“He was able to calm the inmates down because of his good relationship with them,” said the source. “He was a good man to the inmates, so they still respect and honour him a lot.”

When FIJ contacted Godwin Ochekpa, the Deputy Controller of Prisons (DCP) in charge of Kuje, on the phone, he denied that there was any riot at the prison.

“There was no riot,” he said. “No incident of riot at Kuje Custodial Centre.”

Sodomy is a regular feature of Nigerian prisons. In 2019, Charles Okah released a mini-book on the sodomy of children at the Maximum Security Prison, Borno. Kashim Shettima, governor of the state, then inaugurated an eight-man panel to investigate the matter.

However, the panel, chaired by Kaka Shehu, the commissioner of justice and attorney-general of the state, could not properly ascertain the claims, revealing that its work was frustrated because panel members were denied entry to the prison by the Borno State Controler of Prisons and the Controller-General of Prisons.

Editor’s Note: Bomblast is a section inside Kuje. Every section has its leaders.  

The four sections are: Custody 2, called Egypt; Custody 3, for convicted inmates (although awaiting-trial inmates occupy 3cells in it as a result of prison congestion); Custody 4, mainly for awaiting-trial inmates; and Bomblast.

Segregation is a building separated for punishment. It is a building of four cells with space for exercise and trained officers to manage it but with no mattress on the iron bed fixed to the ground. It is also called Back Cell. Inmates under punishment may be locked there for weeks or months.

Independent, public-interest journalism has never been more vital than in times like this when truth is constantly being suppressed. With your support, it will be easier for us to continue speaking truth to power and preserving your right to know.

Published 25th Feb, 2021

By FIJ

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