Inmates serving their sentences at the Nigerian Federal Custodial Centre at Ogwashi-Uku in Delta State have protested against one of their counterparts, Mr Godspower Ikoro, popularly known as ‘General-Marshal’.
The inmates have accused ‘General-Mashal’ of his high-handedness and violation of their human rights and the provisions of the Nigerian Correctional Services Act 2019.
The inmates’ protest was held on Friday, September 16, 2022.
The inmates have also been calling for his transfer to any other prison facility as he has been accused of terrorising other inmates.
The position – General-Marshal– is meant to signify the most senior inmate by tradition and the promotion of inmates’ welfare in the custodial centre but is not backed by any written law in Nigeria.
According to the sources at the prison facility, Ikoro, the inmate at the root of the protest, was not appointed as the ‘General Marshal’ of the Federal Custodial Centre Ogwashi-Uku in 2020 because he was the oldest inmate. Ikoro was selected for the position by a former Deputy Controller of Correction (DCC), Frank Okonkwo and later retained by DCC, the current in charge of the custodial centre, Sunday Oyakhire.
“The angry inmates were protesting the high-handedness of Ikoro Godspower, which has led to massive oppression of the inmates. He has been accused of maintaining the poor water supply and subjecting inmates to slavery and servitude, including 24-hour lock-up in overcrowded and congested cells. Further, the prison under his jurisdiction has poor welfare for disease-ravaged inmates and inmates with unsound minds.
Additionally, the man has been accused of inflicting corporal punishment on inmates, impersonation of warders, assumption of false authority, imposing illegal fines on inmates, violating human dignity, abuse of the rights of inmates, enforcing Islamic religion on inmates, instigating constant raiding of inmates’ cells to confiscate their petty properties,”
The protest started from Cell 6 at 9:25 AM, where Awaiting Trial Inmates were sighted, chanting a protest song as they went to the Keeper’s office, and other inmates in the congested five cells under 24-hour lock-up began to sing with them in solidarity.
“This development prompted the Keeper, Mr Friday Okwudibia, to put a call across to the armed squad, who immediately put the situation under control by firing several gunshots before the arrival of the in-charge, DCC Sunday Oyakhire and the situation was finally put under control.
Checks revealed that the DCC Oyakhire, in charge of the custodial centre, had given absolute powers to Mr Ikoro to the extent that even the warders attached to the facility have no say in his matter.
According to an inside source, “He claimed to be the 2-IC of the custodial centre, and this necessitated the protest and calls for his immediate transfer to another prison where he will serve and complete his remaining time.”