Cable by Dazzlepod US Embassy Diplomatic Cables from WikiLeaks Released 251287 Cables (Sep 2, 2012)
SECRET (11322)
Reference ID 04LAGOS598 (original text)
OriginConsulate Lagos
ReleasedAug 30, 2011 01:44
CreatedMar 18, 2004 16:47
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available. UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 LAGOS 000598 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
 1.  (SBU) SUMMARY: On February 19, POLOFF and LEGATT met with 
prison officials of the Lagos State Command and interviewed 
detainees awaiting trial at Kiri Kiri Medium Security Prison. 
 Officials and prisoners alike highlighted problems with 
overcrowding, healthcare, and poor record keeping.  They 
complained of NPS's lack of resources and the judiciary's 
inability to process detainees, many of whom have been 
awaiting trial for up to sixteen years.  Poor police 
investigative techniques, the use of arbitrary detention, and 
malfeasance also present problems.  Fraud, waste, and abuse 
of prison resources are common among prison officials.  NGOs, 
not the federal government, provide aid and support.  As a 
result of these conditions, prisoners rioted recently in 
Lagos.  No AMCITS are known to be held at Kiri Kiri Medium 
Security Prison.  END SUMMARY. 
 2.  (SBU) The Lagos State Command of the National Prison 
Service (NPS) has a capacity of 2,795 prisoners in its five 
facilities.  NPS officials stated they are housing a total of 
4,911 prisoners in Kiri Kiri Maximum Security, Kiri Kiri 
Medium Security, Kiri Kiri Women's, Badagry, and Ikoyi 
Prisons.  The Lagos prison system is at 175% capacity.  The 
most acutely overcrowded are Kiri Kiri Medium and Ikoyi 
Prisons.  Kiri Kiri Medium Security has a capacity for 740 
inmates, but holds approximately 1,259 inmates -- 170% of its 
capacity.  Built to house 800 prisoners, Ikoyi Prison now 
holds 2,105 -- 263% of its capacity.  In contrast, Badagry 
Prison, which has a 300-prisoner capacity, is under utilized. 
 3.  (SBU) The press reports over 2500 cases of scabies, 800 
asthmatics, and 300 cases of tuberculosis in the Lagos prison 
system.  The HIV/AIDS rate is believed high and screening for 
the disease is irregular at best.  Limited AIDS awareness and 
education is received by prisoners and anti-retroviral drug 
treatment is rare.  Narcotics use is common and undermines 
disease prevention efforts.  Each prisoner is given a ration 
of 150 naira ($1.11) per day, which prison officials deem 
inadequate, believing 500 naira ($3.70) would be needed.  As 
a result, most prisoners are malnourished and rely on family 
members to supplement their food rations. 
 4.  (SBU) Children are also incarcerated with adults and 
subjected to the same health risks.  NPS officials and 
prisoners told POLOFF that the police often bring teenage 
boys into Kiri Kiri Medium Security Prison and falsify their 
age with fraudulently obtained court documents.  Prisoners 
stated that 40 to 50 children are erroneously housed at Kiri 
Kiri Medium Security Prison due to this practice.  They claim 
the police have threatened the children with death if they 
reveal their true age to prison officials.  Ikoyi Prison, 
which has a separate juvenile facility, is so overcrowded 
that children regularly interact with adult prisoners. 
 5.  (U) Regina Akpan, an NPS official in charge of prisoner 
welfare, told POLOFF she could not provide services for the 
prisoners without the assistance of NGOs and that federal 
funding of the prisons was inconsistent and incapable of 
sustaining even existing programs.  She said NGOs such as 
Prisoners Rehabilitation and Welfare Action (PRAWA), the 
Civil Liberties Organization, Life Link Organization, and the 
Catholic Secretariat provided numerous programs and services. 
 Family contact facilitation, recreational activities, 
spiritual counseling, legal services and various educational 
and training opportunities are available through these 
groups.  Some of these programs include adult literacy 
classes, health education, hair dressing/braiding classes, 
and tailoring classes.  Computer training is also provided, 
but Akpan said classes have been put on hold as electrical 
spikes from the local power supply, worsened by the lack of 
surge protectors or uninterrupted power supply terminals, 
have damaged their equipment. 
 6.  (SBU) There is no little process in the Nigerian criminal 
justice system.  A survey, by the National Human Rights 
Commission in September 2003 of all Nigerian prisons, found 
23,335 awaiting trial within the system, 4,244 of which are 
in Lagos State.  H. D. Kess Momoh, the Controller of Prisons 
for Lagos State, told POLOFF approximately 60% of all inmates 
are detainees awaiting trial. PRAWA, an advocacy NGO that 
also provides training and aid to prisoners, estimates that 
over 80% of detainees are awaiting trial for periods ranging 
from three to sixteen years.  Many have already been 
incarcerated beyond the maximum penalty for the crime of 
which they are accused.  Overcrowding is due to many factors, 
but mainly to the common police practice of arbitrary 
detention.  In the vicinity of a crime, it is not uncommon 
for the police to make mass arrests and identify potential 
suspects from those detained at a later date.  Bribery and 
extortion are often involved, as police officers demand 
bribes to release prisoners, regardless of guilt.  As a 
result, it is the poor who suffer the most from these 
 7.  (U) Irrespective of guilt or innocence, the judiciary 
further slows the process.  Record keeping is poor and 
antiquated.  POLOFF observed prison officials typing records 
on old typewriters, using carbon paper, and haphazardly 
storing their work in a cupboard with 12 cubbyholes.  No 
records were placed in separate folders and no filing system 
could be discerned.  For some prisoners, the GON does not 
know why they are incarcerated, as their case files have been 
lost.  Others have repeatedly gone to court for their initial 
arraignments, only to have their cases continued -- usually 
without explanation.  NPS officials and prisoners alike 
stated the greatest hindrance in the judicial system is the 
lack of transport trucks known as "black Marias."  Two "black 
Marias" are used in the Lagos State Prison Command to take 
prisoners to the various Lagos courts.  Each has a capacity 
to hold 15 to 20 persons -- inadequate for the Lagos State 
Prison Command's needs.  Many prisoners are, therefore, 
unable to meet court dates, further delaying the judicial 
 8.  (U) On February 7 prisoners at Ikoyi Prison rioted for 
two days over the death of an HIV positive inmate who died 
after waiting nine years for his case to come to court. 
Mobile police later secured the prison.  During the riots, 
prisoners burned down the medical storeroom.  Prisoners were 
protesting their conditions and the lack of due process in 
the judiciary.  They were not provided basic items such as 
soap, blankets, and mattresses.  Nor were the prisoners 
afforded basic health care.  When the prisoners burnt down 
the storeroom, it reportedly housed these supplies that had 
not been distributed to the population.  A similar riot broke 
out in June 2003 at Kiri Kiri Medium Security Prison, 
resulting in several deaths. 
 9.  (SBU) POLOFF interviewed three prisoners at Kiri Kiri 
Medium Security Prison.  Each was being held on charges of 
suspected robbery.  Ignatius Ani has been awaiting trail for 
11 years and has never appeared in court since his arrest. 
Joseph Ody has never appeared in court and has been in 
custody for 6 years.  Gabriel Onu, held in custody for 4 
years, has been to court nine times within the past year.  He 
has not been arraigned.  His arraignment has been continued 
each time because the individual he was arrested with does 
not have legal representation.  The prisoners said they knew 
of many individuals who have had their arraignments postponed 
18 to 20 times and they railed against the failings of the 
judiciary.  Their greatest complaint was the lack of "black 
Marias" and they faulted the government for not providing 
them with their opportunity to be heard in court.  They also 
pointed out poor practices and treatment by the police.  Each 
of the men described their conditions as poor, but believed 
that prison officials were providing them with as many 
resources as they were able. 
 10.  COMMENT: The three prisoners hold the position of 
"provost" within the prison, meaning that they are the bosses 
of their cellblocks.  One of the prisoners was well dressed 
and displayed an expensive watch.  Corruption by prison 
officials has been reported in the press, such as smuggling 
contraband to prisoners and diverting prison funds.  It is 
likely these provosts profit from their good relations with 
prison officials, which may reflect the lack of criticism of 
their keepers.  Despite prison corruption, the glaring 
problem of prison overcrowding remains.  The police and 
judiciary have shown themselves to be ill-equipped, grossly 
inefficient, and derelict in their duties.  The criminal 
justice system is chaotic and in dire need of reform.  END