The Akwa Ibom State Command of the Nigerian Correctional Service (NCoS) has again denied maltreating the human rights’ lawyer, Barr Inibehe Effiong, while in its custody.
The latest denial came in reaction to Effiong’s claim after his release penultimate Friday.
A statement by the command, signed by its Public Relations Officer, Richard Metong, read in full: “The Controller of Corrections, Nigerian Correctional Service (NCoS)Akwa Ibom State Command, Julius Ezugwu, wishes to refer to the press interview granted by Inibehe Effiong, a discharged inmate of Uyo Custodial Centre, and state that there is no iota of truth in the allegation of torture by officers of the custodial centre.
“It will be recalled that in the service’s earlier press statement, Inibehe Effiong was referred to Ikot Ekpene Custodial Centre on 27th July 2022 for a mandatory quarantine period of fourteen (14) days in observance of Covid-19 protocol before he was transferred to Uyo Custodial Centre on 10th August 2022, to complete the remaining part of his sentence.
“Since he was in Ikot Ekpene for isolation, it was only necessary that a reasonable distance be maintained between him, other inmates and the staff of the facility.
“His statement that inmates sit with their legs tied is alien to the service and can best be described as a figment of his imagination.
“No financial gratification was requested of him and saying that he had to share a toilet with other inmates is also ridiculous as one would wonder if he was expecting a self-contained apartment in jail!
“When he completed his mandatory observation period in Ikot Ekpene and had to be transferred to the Medium Security Custodial Centre (MSCC) Uyo, the inmate was told to get prepared for the movement but he insisted on knowing the logistics details which is entirely a security issue that not all escort staff are even allowed to know. All appeals and persuasions for him to get prepared were rebuffed and his behavior increasingly became violent and suspicious of attempting to compromise security as other inmates were equally scheduled for transfer. Despite the unwarranted provocation and gratuitous disposition, the staff of the centre remained calm and professional hence he was successfully transferred to Uyo Custodial Centre without any hitch.
“It should also be noted that at no time was he forcefully shaved. For emphasis, personal hygiene is a message regularly preached to the inmates and anyone so willing to cut his hair goes to the barbing salon to do so of his own volition. Inibehe alluded to this in his statement that another inmate convicted of murder kept his long beards. It is, therefore, curious that the authority will isolate Inibehe for forceful shaving. More curious is the fact that someone allegedly thrown into the back of a van and forcefully shaven does not have a single scratch or bruise on his body.
“It is rather laughable that while in Uyo Custodial Centre, the same Inibehe regularly patronized the barbing salon to cut his hair on his own accord and even on Friday 26th of August 2022, the day of his discharge from the centre, he also went to the salon to have a haircut and a clean shave. Thus, making a volte-face to heap unfounded allegations on a system he benefitted from, despite being gratuitous, is most unpatriotic, unfortunate and sad.
“It is obvious that Inibehe enjoys having cheap publicity and seeks every avenue to get recognition but it remains unpatriotic to unjustly vilify an organization in an attempt to attract such cheap popularity.
“Since the enactment of the Nigerian Correctional Service (NCoS) Act 2019, the service has progressively experienced a paradigm shift from just keeping custody to safe, humane, and secured custody of inmates as well as reforming, rehabilitating, and reintegrating them into society.
“The service also holds the welfare, well-being, health, and feeding of inmates in high esteem as custodial facilities are being upgraded nationwide to meet with the international human rights’ best practices and good corrections.
“The Controller of Corrections, Akwa Ibom State Command, wishes to restate his absolute commitment to promoting human rights, dignity and safe custody of inmates, officers and men of the command and will not be distracted from this worthy course by frivolous allegations.
“He appreciates well-meaning civil society organizations, the general public and other stakeholders for their genuine efforts in partnering with the service to maintain the internal security of the custodial centres and the state at large.”