By Emma Nnadozie and Ifeanyi Okolie
The Controller General of the Nigeria Prison Service, Mr. Olushola Adigun, yesterday, in Lagos denied providing preferential treatment to the convicted former Chairman of the Nigeria Port Authority (NPA), Chief Olabode George and his associates, who are currently serving a two and half years jail term each at the Kirirkiri Maximum Security Prison in Lagos.
This is just as fresh reports from the prison reveal that the convicted Peoples Democratic Chieftain, Chief Bode George may, after all, be enjoying the fullest liberty in his political career inside the confines of Kirikiri Maximum Prisons.
Sources at the prison have revealed that George has been holding ceaseless meetings with his political associates inside the prison.Â Â The meetings, which sources said usually took place under a tree near his former cell, has been shifted to the office of the Deputy Controller of Prisons (DCP).
The Prison boss who made this denial yesterday at the handing over ceremony of a Special Study Centre to theÂ National Open University ofÂ Nigeria held inside Kirikiri Maximum Prison said both convicted and awaiting inmates are all being treated equally.Â According to him, â€œinmatesÂ in the Nigerian prisons are equal under the law and none had to be treated special.Â Though there are several media reports concerning our popular inmate being treated specially, I am contradicting that fact.Â Â I want to state it clear to youÂ that he is being treated like every other inmate.â€
When asked if the erstwhile PDP National Chairman South has adorned the official blue and blue uniform for convicted inmates, the prison boss however reacted by saying,Â â€œAll convicted inmates wear uniforms but they are in different forms.
As for hisÂ number, I cannotÂ give that now.Â Â You donâ€™t expect me to carry on my head the numbers of over 40, 000 inmates all over Nigerian prisons.â€
The Controller General of prisons said since education remains paramount in the President Umaru Musa Yarâ€™Aduaâ€™sÂ vision 2020 agenda,Â the prison service has embarked on this project to reform prisonersÂ by providing them with advance education that would enable them to integrateÂ properly into the society and also assist in propellingÂ the agenda of making NigeriaÂ become one of theÂ 20 largest economies in the world, come 2020.
Saturday Vanguard learnt that the meeting between Bode George and his political associates was shifted to a new venue after prison authorities in Abuja which got hint of it queried their men at Kirikri.Â Â They reportedly intervened by cautioning their men in Lagos after which they now shifted it to a more reserved and conducive area.
According to the sources, â€œThey hold the meeting after official hours of 1.30 to 4pm at least, four times every week.Â It lasts between three to four hours and you always have in attendance no fewer than ten of his political associates.Â He presides over the meeting while one other person takes note.â€Â The office where they hold the meeting, he continued , is reserved for high class inmates like Mustapha, Dambaba etc and they have no restrictions there.