The House of Representatives on Thursday expressed grave displeasure over the circumstances surrounding the death of 900 inmates across Nigerian prisons, due to inadequate medical personnel and facility.
To this end, the House tasked Federal Government and relevant agencies on the need to provide quality healthcare services for prison inmates
This followed the unanimous adoption of a motion titled: ‘Need to address the deplorable state of healthcare service provision in Nigerian prisons,’ sponsored by Chike Okafor (APC-Imo).
In his lead debate, Okafor said that non-availability of drugs and inadequate medical personnel had resulted in avoidable deaths of inmates.
He said that due to the comatose nature of prisons clinics, inmates depend on donations and outreach programmes from churches, mosques and voluntary organisations to access healthcare.
According to him, inmates at times, have to buy the drugs by themselves from vendors, some of whom sell fake, substandard or adulterated drugs with their deleterious consequences.
“This has resulted in the frequent outbreak of epidemics in the prisons and the high death rate recorded among inmates. It is evident in the over 32 inmate deaths recorded in 2016 at a Lagos prison owing to unavailability of quality medical care.
“The condition of our prisoners could be said to be near death sentence, as many have died because of proper healthcare services. No wonder in the last one year over 900 inmates died with one state accounting for 32 deaths.
“The deplorable health situation in the prisons is a major public health hazard which without intervention, could result in more deaths and would amount to unsolicited death sentence to prison inmates.
“Inmates are still entitled to their fundamental human right to quality healthcare services even while in prison as envisaged by section 12(1) of the Prisons Act, 2004,” he said.
The House, therefore, urged the Federal Ministries of Interior, and Health as well as Comptroller General of Prisons to intervene by providing quality healthcare services for prison inmates.
While ruling on the motion which was unanimously supported by members, Speaker Yakubu Dogara mandate d the joint Committees on Interior and Healthcare Services to embark on oversight of various prisons with a view to finding a permanent solution to the problem of poor healthcare services at Nigerian prisons and report back within three weeks for further legislative action.
KEHINDE AKINTOLA, Abuja