Of course, trust me, I laid bare before them how PDP-led Abia State government mismanaged in the region of N1.5 trillion 20-years FAAC Allocation accrued to the state. This exposé immediately led to raucous outburst, “Chaiii! Ndia Egbuola anyi ooh! (these people have killed us)” from the distraught inmates.
Amid the tumultuous scene inside the jam-packed cell that harbours 66 inmates against its capacity of 20, I noticed that one inmate barely turned his neck. On closer observation, I realised that he has a life-threatening cancerous growth. All through the night I spent battling bedbugs and mosquitoes, this inmate sat immobile screeching excruciatingly.
I felt terrible that all I could do was just stand and watch him battle to stay alive. I was downcast. While trying to bottle my emotion, I obliviously surrendered to mother nature. It was the blasting echo from the gong of my cell DPO (Ortega) that interrupted my fantasies in the dreamland. I was reawakened to consciousness by the corresponding yell of “Sit Up! Sit Up! Sit Up! Wake Your Neighbour!” from the major of our cell and his policemen.
It was six o’clock in the morning and time for devotion. The praise-worship session was soul lifting for me not because I was spirit-filled but because of the dazzling voice of the lead chorister. It was euphonious. Aside from this talent, he looked godly also. I was curious to know what brought him here. So I couldn’t wait for the session to come to an end to approach him.
Trust me, I did, with curiosity immediately after the devotion.
His story left my mouth ajar. He is a gospel musician. Sometime in 2014, while returning from a concert in the company of his wife and little daughter, his vehicle was involved in a ghastly accident at Isi ala Ngwa with another.
The victim; a lawyer, died on the spot. He woke up in the hospital the next day. According to him, his wife and little daughter sustained several degrees of injuries and were lucky to be alive. He said the victim was from an influential home. A display of opulence saw a police report that altered accident to homicide.
Dumbfounded, I shouted, “Chineke Mehhh!” My plangent shriek drew the attention of the bewildered inmates. All of a sudden, there was an outburst of raucous hilarity. To subject the situation under control, the provost ordered, “Less the noise!” to which his police replied, “Gwa gwaa!” He repeated the command and reinforced it with a stretched imposing directive, “Nooooo noiseeee!” And in compliance, the chorus of “As the court pleases,” from the inmates rented the air.
I was impressed by their organisation and obeisance. They are not the feckless layabouts and criminals the society labelled them. They are victims of a failed government, and security agencies clumsiness. Except for grace, the majority of us would have been victims also.
I had the privilege to interact with several other inmates after the cells were thrown open for a selected few. It was then I came in contact with a few others with terminal illnesses and also heard unbelievable stories too scary to be true.
The prison authority owed the Federal Medical Centre (FMC), Umuahia, millions of naira for treatments of inmates whose cases were beyond what the prison’s clinic could manage. As a result of this indebtedness, FMC management no longer accepted inmates unless their families were ready to shoulder the medical bills.
So, inmates whose families could not afford to pay were left to die. A prison official confirmed this horrible story to be true. He added that they were buried a few hours after death if their families failed to claim the corpses.
With mouth ajar, I took a deep breath; shook my head in disbelieve and thank my accusers and captors for bringing me to Afara prison. How would the world have known of their barbarism if not for this rascality?
To be continued…