Chidinma Ojukwu, the principal suspect in the killing of Super TV boss, Michael Usifo Ataga, has won a beauty pageant held in Kirikiri Prison as part of event to celebrate the International Women’s Day.
The events themed ‘BreakTheBias’ was won by the 300-level, Mass Communication student of the University of Lagos (UNILAG), competed with other inmates of the prison and won the coveted crown of Miss Cell 2022. Chidinma, her sister Chioma Egbuchu and one Adedapo Quadri are facing trial for the murder of Mr Ataga.
Miss Ojukwu’s last trial date was February 21, but the trial was stalled because of the absence of the prosecution witness.
The beauty pageant however, has generated public uproar and has been condemned widely.
Nigeria’s ministry of the interiors says that ‘the Nigerian Correction Service is statutorily expected to take into lawful custody all those duly certified to be so kept by courts of competent jurisdiction. One of its duties is also to identify the causes of inmates’ anti-social disposition with the view to set in motion mechanisms for their training and reform, so they can return to the society as law abiding citizens
But according to Chief Nnamdi Ezekulu, founder and youth counselor of the Good Brotherhood of Grace, an Abuja based NGO, the Prison service has stepped out of its bounds, ‘that girl – someone who should be sober, someone who is awaiting trial for a murder, must have been convinced into doing the pageant. And it is sad that someone awaiting trial in a criminal case of murder, should be engaged in such ceremony. I think that the Prison chiefs should be held accountable for misrepresenting what the correctional centre stands for.
Alhaji Ismaheel Beyioku, another youth counselor in Alimosho local government, Lagos state, says ‘the beauty pageant in Kirikiri portends a grave statement and consequential act to other youths, like you see in American movies – that they can live their lives to the full extent in prison custody, which also means that inmates have been involved in other related activities not known to the public. I tell you, the element of soberness has been removed and the eventual occurrence of repentance is very probable.
But whether public opinion is furious or diverse, a person who is remanded in a prison is not and should not be treated as a convicted prisoner, as they have not yet been found guilty of any offence. They have fundamental rights which are still intact under the Law.
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