Most Rev. Dr. Paulinus Chukwuemeka Ezeokafor , the Catholic Bishop of Awka, has lamented the poor state of Nigerian Prisons and also wondered why most of the prisons were cited in areas that have no room for expansion.
Bishop Ezeokafor said if prisons are meant to reform the inmates, both workers and inmates must live and work in facilities that are not meant to humiliate them.
He added: “I am doing the much I can. I rehabilitated two cells and a borehole and offered food in order to make the visit worthwhile. But we need more people to come and assist”.
He said that Amawbia prison is within Awka Diocese and so the inmates are also entitled to the same pastoral care as the free.
As for his choice of last weekend for the visit, Bishop Ezeokafor said it was meant to celebrate the feast of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of Christ whose obedience to God’s words opened the door to man’s salvation.
He also advocated that there should be room for expansion so that prisoners can even have enough space to play games because their incarceration is itself imprisonment.
Ezeokafor spoke when he paid a pastoral visit to Amawbia prisons where he administered sacrament of confirmation on 15 inmates and also commissioned two cells and a bore hole which he rehabilitated after his visit to the prison last Christmas.
He also charged Nigerian authorities to ensure quick dispensation of justice so that those inmates who were brought to the prison following frivolous allegations should be set free.
He said: “We call on government to give justice by quickening trial of accused persons because there are some people who spend years in awaiting trial and justice delayed is justice denied.
“When justice is dispensed quickly people who can still be reformed will come out and be reformed”.
He advocated that prisons should be built in specious areas so that prisoners can even have space to play.
He advised the prisoners to determine that they will leave the prison better and reformed more so when there are facilities for learning of trade there.
He, however, called on the well to do in the society to do something to make prisons and their offices hospitable rather than waste money on conspicuous consumption.
Mr. Anthony Ubaike, comptroller of Prisons in Anambra State, in his speech thanked the bishop but called for more visits on pastoral care.
Ubaike also asked for assistance from men of good will to rehabilitate the prison.
According to him, the prison is a big beneficiary of the year of mercy declared by Pope Francis