EXCLUSIVE: Prisoners in Nigeria die of TB In an exclusive report, we reveal how TB struck and killed seven inmates in a Nigerian prison.
According to sources who spoke to this newspaper, senior officials, including those in command of the facility in Katsina, have attempted to cover up the incident in order to avoid accountability.
EXCLUSIVE: Prisoners in Nigeria die of TB
According to insiders at the old Katsina detention center, at least 20 convicts have died as a result of pulmonary TB, and approximately one hundred more have contracted the condition. Officials blamed the event on corruption and the “shockingly inadequate” level of hygiene and health services at the facility, which has been operating for 104 years.
According to information obtained by this newspaper, senior officials, including those in command of the facility in Katsina, have attempted to cover up the incident in order to avoid accountability. Additionally, according to PREMIUM TIMES, officials who should have been aware of the development because their job entails receiving information on such developments were kept in the dark.
A senior official expressed surprise that “such a thing might be happening, and I will not know, but I will not discount it.” “Such a thing may be happening,” the official said.
According to a jail official, the facility, which was built by the British in 1918, has an installed capacity of 300 inmates but today accommodates approximately 900 people. According to medical experts, living in an overcrowded environment, as well as having poor nutrition and environmental hygiene, increases the likelihood of tuberculosis spreading from an infected person.
As described by Medline Plus, an online health information resource operated by the United States National Library of Medicine, pulmonary tuberculosis is a contagious lung infection that spreads easily when people breathe in air droplets from a cough or sneeze of a person who is infected with the disease.
Many defendants currently awaiting trial languish in jails as a result of a weakened and sluggish criminal justice system, resulting in extreme overcrowding in the facilities and a significant risk of the spread of contagious diseases such as tuberculosis and other diseases.
Prison officials who asked not to be identified because he did not have clearance to speak to journalists claimed that “Officers in Charge (of prisons) purposely maintain detainees’ numbers high so that they can claim more money for their food.” He said, “They arrest vulnerable people in collusion with police DPOs, take them to court, and remand them in detention centers.”
“Unfortunate events are taking place.”
According to a source with first-hand knowledge of the issue, 71 detainees of the Katsina prison were infected with the virus at the beginning of this month. However, by the middle of the month, 89 people had fallen ill. As the jail continues to be overcrowded, with poor healthcare and rationing for inmates, it is expected that a large number of inmates would become infected.
A source who is aware with the issue claimed that while tuberculosis is curable, “with insufficient treatment, low quality and quantity of food, the spread and mortality from the virus would continue to climb.” “Unfortunate events are taking place.”
Francis Enobore, a spokesman for the Nigeria Correctional Service, claimed the outbreak began in January and that just seven detainees had died as a result. With the help of “intense treatment and drugs administered,” Mr Enobore claims that the problem has been “brought under control,” with only one instance documented during the month of April.
Mr Enobore’s statements, on the other hand, are largely challenged by our findings, which are based on disclosures from sources with firsthand information, including people on the ground, as well as images and documents that we have seen. According to an official document, numerous detainees were proven to have contracted the virus in April and are currently being treated at a hospital.
PREMIUM TIMES examined images of detainees who died after contracting tuberculosis, as well as scores of others who were unwell as a result of the disease.
There are several sick detainees sleeping on mats on the bare floor in an unheated ward with no drips, which our sources say accurately depicts the appalling state of healthcare services provided to inmates.
Photographs show that a few others, who are fortunate enough to have beds, are on drips. Others in beds, on the other hand, do not have drips.
Feeding System that has sparked controversy
In Nigeria’s overcrowded jails, inmates are malnourished and poorly cared, making them more prone to disease and infection. Officially, N750 (less than two dollars) is allotted to feed one inmate per day, which is less than two dollars. It was N450 till the year 2021. According to sources within the prison system, corruption has resulted in only a small portion of the budget being allocated to convicts’ food.
“Inmates are officially fed at a rate of N750 per day per head, but contractors purchase these contracts from the prison authorities for approximately 30% of the official rate, resulting in contractors receiving approximately N525 per inmate for food,” a prison official told PREMIUM TIMES. “Contractors deduct their earnings and normally send over between N250 and N300 per head to the officers in charge of Custodial Centers (prisons) for convict feeding,” says the author.
Officers in Charge then choose how well detainees should be fed. ” Inmates who are well-off rely on self-feeding; they prepare their own meals or rely on food provided by their family.
“Inmates at large detention facilities, particularly in urban areas and the southern half of the country, are frequently better nourished because non-governmental organizations (NGOs), churches, mosques, and other organizations provide endless numbers of free food items.
“Inmates in rural areas and the northern portion of the nation, such as Katsina’s old prison, are malnourished,” the source, who begged not to be identified for fear of being victimized, continued.