Newsie Events Media: #OPINION
About 4 years ago, I briefly joined the Prison ministry in my church. The responsibility of the ministry was to visit prisons and preach to prisoners whose status as prisoners is generally believed to have been as a result of their illegal dealings or deviant behaviors. Sometimes, there are people who are incarcerated in prisons while awaiting trials and sentences obviously after being accused or caught in the perpetration of a wrong. This is not always the case. There are Prisoners in Nigeria who are in prison and do not fit in any of the above descriptions warranting their incarceration.
The first time I went to a Prison as a new member of the prison ministry of my church, we engaged a couple of prisoners in a fellowship where we preached the need to abandon vices and adopt moral values so that should they get their Freedom, they will live good lives and never have any reason to return to the prison yard again. The sermons was filled with the theme of repentance because we went there with the notion that whoever is in the prison is the “bad guy”.
There were many prisoners attending our fellowship so we separated and organized ourselves in groups. I finished talking to my group on time and while I was waiting for others to conclude their meetings in their respective groups, I engaged in a personal conversations with the prisoners. I wanted to hear their stories. Why are they here ? What exactly are their offences ?
While majority admitted to committing the crime that brought them there, a few talked about their innocence and narrated how their disagreement with influential persons who have strong connections in government and in the police force, landed them there. Some of them are in prison because they spoke up or tried to challenge the injustice meted to them and their families by one rich man. This is a case of elitist oppression. Some are there simply because one big man wants to teach them a lesson outside the law, prove their influence, satisfy their bloated egos and validate the dictum that the law is for the rich.
Indeed, in Nigeria, the law is for the rich. The law and its agents are instruments in the hands of the rich to oppress the poor.
The story of those prisoners made me to be circumspect. I helped them deliver letters to their families whom I engaged in a fact finding mission. I shared these stories to friends who laughed at me for living in the moon and being unaware of what is going on in the country. My investigations proved them right.
The Nigerian Police force and her litany of dirty cops have availed themselves as instruments in the perpetration of this injustice. It is very common for “people with money” to have police friends which they rely on to intimidate, attack and oppress their enemies who are mostly poor. Dirty cops transform themselves to private henchmen of rich men, helping them get away with their crimes, cover their dirty dealings and do other dirty jobs such as imprisoning who they don’t like.
The phrases “Do you know who I am ?” Or ” I will deal with you” from a rich man in most times translates to “I will contact one of my friends in the Police to teach you a lesson”.
The recent outburst involving HushPuppi and Nigeria’s Super Cop, Abba Kyari, is an opportunity to bring up such debacles to the forefront of national discourse. The allegations of Kyari, a police officer, receiving bribe from HushPuppi, as incentive to deal with another whom HushPuppi needed to imprison or deal with, whether true or untrue, is a common experience in Nigeria. There are many dirty cops willingly working with and for people who have the capacity to bribe them with huge sums, to commit such dastard acts. Dirty cops working with and for rich criminals, politicians and their likes, covering tracks and sending Innocent people to prison at the request of their Masters is a big lump in the eye of the administration of law and Justice in Nigeria. Sadly, I was only opportune to visit one prison. By estimation, there are thousands of Innocent Nigerians languishing in prison as victims of this unholy romance between Dirty cops and rich people.
In pursuing reforms of Nigeria’s judicial, prison and policing systems, severing the relationship between dirty cops and their rich patrons is imperative. The attorney general and the Apex Leadership of the country’s police need to look into this cancer to at least, save future victims of this age long injustice.
Caleb Onyeabor is a Nigerian intellectual, an avid advocate for political justice, social justice, and economic justice. Author of Diary of a Messed Up country. Follow him on Twitter via twitter.com/caleb_onyeabor
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