THE management of the Nigerian Correctional Service (NCoS) said yesterday that the authorities had no intention of glamourising criminality or injuring the sensibilities of the Atagas in their moments of grief.
The NCoS said it was aware of the backlashes generated by the “Miss Cell 2022” beauty pageant organised at the Kirikiri facility in Lagos to mark this year’s International Women’s Day Celebration.
Chindima Ojukwu who is facing trials for the murder of Usifo Ataga won the contest. Ataga was the Chief Executive Officer of Super TV. The contest generated uproar across the country with people raising concerns on why the event attracted wide publicity.
The Service said it regretted the concerns raised by Nigerians regarding the event, but said it was not the first time such event took place at its facilities.
A statement signed by the Public Relations Officer of the Service, Francis Enobore, said it was on record that such events took place for emotional stability of the inmates.
He assured the family of the Atagas that the Service would do everything to ensure that the course of justice was served regarding the late Usifo Ataga.
The statement reads:”The attention of the NCoS has been drawn to concerns raised in some quarters with respect to the recent events held at the Kirikiri Female Custodial Centre in Lagos to mark the International Women’s Day and note, with deep regrets, the unintended interpretations it has elicited from different quarters.
“For the records, psychosocial engagements have traditionally been part of the Service’s inmates treatment regimes designed to provide emotional stability needed to promote total well-being of inmates and enhance safe custody.
“It would be recalled that several celebrities and internationally recognised artistes such as Sam Okposo, Onyeka Owenu, Pasuma, Denrele, Lamboginny, to mention but a few, have carried out lavish concerts in the male custodial centres in Kirikiri and Ikoyi to celebrate with the inmates irrespective of their status.
“In year 2000 to be specific, Channels Television covered a musical concert for male inmates in Ikoyi Custodial Centre were Dr. Sola Fosude, the Head of Department, Art & Music, Lagos State University praised the performance of the inmates and commended the personnel for their effort.
“The intendment has never been to glamourise or make a hero out of criminality.
These events, beyond the venial of entertaining criminals and suspect alike, provides avenue for generating actionable intelligence to address some knotty issues under investigation and the intelligence community has severally benefitted from this service.
“The beauty pageantry in question, was one out of the series of events that featured competition in dancing, singing, bead making, costume design etc. Other prizes were won by other inmates equally facing charges for heinous crimes. Aside creating a relaxed atmosphere for the inmates, the prizes do not bestow any right or privilege on any of the contestants.
“Moreover, the event was for internal consumption within the custodial environment and never meant to be given wide publicity.
“It was also insinuated that male inmates were deliberately kept in squalor, compared to the female custodial centres generally adjudged to be exceptionally clean.
It is no longer news that females account for less than 1.5% of the total inmates’ population of about 70,000 in the country.
“Therefore, overcrowding and the attendant chaos are exclusively found in male custodial centres due to pressure on the infrastructure.
“The NCoS is quite sensitive to the plight of victims and their families and will never indulge in anything to undermine this. The Service believes that controlled social engagements do not interfere with trial of cases in court as activities within custodial centres have no bearing with evidence needed for cases to be tried.
“While identifying with the Atagas in their moment of grief, the NCoS wishes to state, without equivocation, that it will do everything within its power to assist the course of justice in unveiling those behind the dastardly act.”