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Nigerian prisons ignored

TWO great sons of Nigeria provide the line for today’s piece. The first is the late Prof. Chinua Achebe who said that there is a moral obligation, not to ally oneself with power against the powerless, while the next is Prof. Wole Soyinka who is convinced that the greatest threat to freedom is the absence of criticism.

Good leaders should accommodate criticisms whether constructive or not, because criticisms provide the balance with which life was made. No one should take decisions, and hold the reactions at the same time.

Our leaders should therefore learn to change, since they just cannot wield power and decision making and at the same control reactions to their actions, because that will bring much abhorred tyranny. Moreover, we are in the “change” mode in Nigeria, so let us all also  change the way we look at ourselves.

An Ethiopian Proverb says that we must not make our choices based on surface level attraction, because the good look of a moron does not always stay like that.

Last week, Governor  Okorocha of Imo State, was in London with his entourage, to address his people my people, at the very popular Chatham House, the same place where they presented General Muhamadu Buhari, GMB, as he then was, to the Western Media during the Presidential Campaigns in 2014.That APC outing was a success because Buhari won and became our President.

So Chief Okorocha copied them and went to Chatham House,but things turned out different from video clips that has gone viral in the social media .

An aggrieved agitator for IPOB challenged him, there was some commotion before the man was practically bullied, harassed and pushed out the place, by another man whom we are told is in the Imo House of Assembly, showcasing our leadership style to Oyibo people in London!

Chief Okorocha in his reaction asked the agitator in Igbo language

“ Ima Onye Mbu?” meaning Do you know who I am?

He got answers that should shock any man, he was called the murderer by the agitator of the man’s parents and relations who were killed by Nigerian military and security forces when they shot at unarmed protesters for Birafra, under Okorocha’s supposed watch as Governor of Imo State.

Then IPOB followed up again on social media and in answer to that question ‘Ima Onye Mbu’ they opened a can of worms over Okorocha’s paternity, a serious matter for another day.

Poor Governor Okorocha, the same Chatham House that brought fame to his President, and APC during their campaigns is about to bring shame to him in Igbo land, where we often say that when the rat follows the lizard into the rain, when the lizard dries up, the rat will remain wet and it may spell doom for it.

While we await what happens next, that question “ Ima Onye Mbu ” that is “Do you know whom I am” deserves a closer and deeper look.

It could mean do you know that I can do and undo in Nigeria and elsewhere because I am rich, powerful, enjoy immunity, my party the APC, is the ruling party, I can therefore turn white black and vice versa; It could also mean do you know that Iam very far from what you think I am.

I have seen many who asked same question in the past. Some of them are still throwing their weight around, some died even in power, some were disgraced, while many ended up as inmates to our prison at one time or the other. OBJ was thrown into prison by his enemies, and  his friends bought him out and made him our President; General Diya was thrown into prison by his enemy, he was brought out and saved by the whiskers; General Buhari as then was, was also thrown into prison by his enemies, and was brought out later and he is now our President; Chief Celiclia Ibru, an award winning globally acclaimed Banker was thrown into prison, and she secured her freedom later.

Many of our, powerful, mighty and celebrated men and women in all works of life, have found themselves at one time or the other in prison, yet they simply ignore the place, and move on when they come out. It is shocking to me!

Comrade Abbah Moro, was a Minister in charge of prisons under the President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan’s past administration, during which he attended opening ceremonies of two prison reform seminars, organised by  Gabriel Agunwa from Imo State, the first private person to invest his own hard earned money to call Nigeria to look into her prisons.

Comrade Moro usually stormed into the place, read his speech, zoomed out but nothing changed, and God made him an inmate of Nigerian prison later.

We read last week that General Badeh was remanded, and later granted bail, and is still an inmate as this piece is written.

We hear that he refused to eat their prison food, the usual white watery beans, watery soup with miserable balls of Eba, and yam with red palm oil etc.

As a Lawyer, when I meet big Ogas in prison, they will promise to look into the prison condition of inmates, they will do this and that, but once they regain their freedom they forget the prison.

Our prisons are mostly overcrowded and congested, where over forty persons share one room, without water, power or light, and decrepit environment, some with completely dilapidated buildings.

The prison condition of any nation is an indication of the conscience of that nation. Our leaders have no conscience, thus, they leave our prisons as one of the worst in the world, and that’s why most of them will by God’s grace end up in prison one way or the other!

So, when they ask ‘Do you know who I am?’ I know for sure that they are Ogas on top who may end up in prison custody some day in the future, especially given the precedence being laid by this Change Agenda. Every action has a consequence, so when you scatter thorns don’t go barefoot.

Mr  Clement Udegbe, a lawyer, can be reached at


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