By Anayo Okoli
ABIA state Comptroller of Prison, Catherine Ononye has lamented the state of the facilities at the Umuahia Prisons, and called on both the Federal and Abia state governments to assist in the improvement of the facilities available in the prison.
Ononye who spoke when the delegation of Abia state Government led by the Attorney-General of the state, Mr. Umeh Kalu visited her to see the extent of the work to be done at the prison, explained that the prison’s cells needed to be rebuilt. She also said that at least a storey buiding is equally needed to accommodate the staff.
According to Ononye, the prison is currently congested beyond its capacity following the recent clamp down on criminals in the state. She explained that the recent arrest of hundreds of criminals especially since the arrival of the joint military task force has increased the number of inmates in the prison.
“Our facilities in this prison need to be updated such as rebuilding the cells, buildings housing the cells, increasing the capacity of the prison, building at least a story building for the staff as quarters and providing vehicles for us to convey suspects to courts”, she said.
She said that there is great need to increase the capacity of the prison in the Abia state capital,“because the city is now a state capital and there will be increase in criminal activities, so we are likely to be over stretched beyond our limit at all times”.
In his remarks, the attorney-general said that the state government decided to visit the prison to see how they could be of help to the prison and its inmates.
According to him, the visit became necessary following the government’s resolve to clamp down on criminal activities in the state, so that the state will be free and safe for its residents and those who will be coming or passing through the state all the time.
He disclosed that since the commencement of the activities of the soldiers in the state to rid the state of all forms of criminals, “we have arrested about 300 suspected kidnappers and others involved in other violent crimes, so it is giving the prison a lot of pressure”.
He said that the state government will cooperate with the police command in the state to ensure that the arrested suspected criminals in the state prisons are given speedy trials, so that those who are guilty will be imprisoned while those who are not guilty will be set free.
Umuahia prisons, it was learnt currently houses a total of 876 inmates against the 500 inmates it was designed to accommodate. Of the 876 inmates, 822 are males while only 54 inmates are females.