The President of the Nigerian Women in Clergy and Overseer of the New Wine Ministries World Wide, Nonnie Robertson, visited Suleja prison to celebrate her birthday. According to her she decided to visit the prison because she had heard about some people who have been incarcerated for committing petty crimes and unable to meet their bail conditions or pay the fine set for their release.
She said she was shocked to see children in prison with their parents. She said she didn't think it was fair for children to be incarcerated for crimes committed by their parents. She said: "There is an eight-month-old baby in this prison. I asked myself why? What was the crime? The mother is incarcerated! And you know what it means for a child to grow up in prison environment where there is no good food, no clothing, no baby food, and no good medical care. Is a child who grows up in that kind of environment not condemned for life?” “I was really shocked when I saw the eight month-old-baby. The woman lives on dry food, that is, garri that outsiders provide for them. They don’t give them food. They depend on what people take to them. That is what they share among them and they drink garri even in the morning with little or no sugar. You can just imagine! There are many children living in this condition in Nigerian prisons but people would not know. There are issues. I weep for this country”. “I always like to do things differently. I heard about what I could describe as ‘forgotten’ victims in Nigerian prisons; though I didn’t take it seriously because I was not led by the spirit; I prayed over it and few, days to my birthday, God asked me to visit prisons. The first prison that came to my mind was Kuje prison, because, ignorantly, I thought that was the only prison around. But we later went to Suleja prison and we met inmates whose cases were poverty-driven crimes. Some are there serving jail terms with the options of N5, 000 to N15, 000 fines but they can’t afford it and nobody to help. This is why I call them the ‘forgotten victims’. "We have people that have looted billions of naira in this country, yet they have their freedom and sailing around the world. This is sad”.
Culled: Linda Ikeji