Excerpts of the undercover investigations at the Ikoyi prisons by Fisayo Soyombo who spent two weeks in detention
…..While in prison, I’d exchanged contacts with an awaiting-trial inmate who had promised to reach out once he regained freedom. True to his words, he called on the day he exited Ikoyi Prison. Weeks after, I drove about 340km out of Lagos to meet up with him.
“I saw how you were beaten up in prison and I didn’t want you to suffer in vain,” he says as we exchanged handshakes, each sizing the other up for elements of trust. “I’m going to help you by giving you additional information to what you already have. But this will be a very brief meeting, and this will be the only time ever you’d see me. That’s the best way for me to stay alive, because I know these bad guys will come after me if they trace any information to me.”
He explains that the special accommodation mentioned by the prison warders in court, which I was shielded from seeing, is called ‘Nicon Luxury’. It’s an apartment where inmates pay between N20,000 and N50,000 for a night’s sleep, plus access to cigarettes, drinks, Indian hemp, drugs and girls.
“The apartment has air conditioners, good couches and mattresses; meanwhile, 118 inmates are packed like sardines into one room that should normally hold 30 inmates. Those at Nicon are not only political prisoners or people of influence; just people who have the money.”
He describes the unfair world that the prison is, with only the poor truly imprisoned while the rich live fine.
“There is a lot of impunity in the prison,” he says. “An inmate, so long he is rich, can have almost everything, even sex. Inmates sleep with prostitutes. If you want to have sex, just tell the warders. They will bring a girl to the Nicon Luxury for you, set the two of you up; you f**k, you pay. It’s that easy,” he reveals.
“There is free flow of drugs in prison, which is impossible without the facilitation or compromise of warders. You’ll find Colorado [a hard drug] in huge sale; I took it myself. I paid just N5,000 each time I wanted it. Tramadol and refnol are sold, too, but Colorado is the highest in demand.
“Look at Vaseline, it is a very scarce commodity in prison but it is available at expensive rates for use in sodomy. At Ikoyi Prison, the powerful inmates sodomise the others, and it happens right under the nose of prison authorities. They know that these things happen. But, you see, the warders are the problem — because inmates do not have access to the outside world, and those coming from outside are screened from head to toe. Therefore, nothing can enter the prison without the knowledge of warders.”