Chidiebube Okeoma, Owerri
There was an outrage in Owerri, the Imo State capital, on Tuesday after the authorities at the Owerri Federal Prisons denied family members access to the 112 women who were arrested and remanded in custody for demanding to know the whereabouts of the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, Nnamdi Kanu.
The women, who protested on the streets of Owerri last Friday before they were arrested and arraigned in court on Monday, also asked the Federal Government to conduct a referendum for the creation of the Independent State of Biafra.
They threatened that the 2019 general elections would not hold if the referendum was not conducted.
But briefing journalists on Wednesday, the Public Relations Officer of Owerri Federal Prisons, James Madugba, said the prisons authorities did not allow family members of the detained women to visit them because of ‘prevailing circumstances’.
Madugba described as untrue the allegation that the prison officers received an order from “above” not to allow the remanded women access to their loved ones.
The prisons spokesperson said the Armoured Personnel Carrier parked in the front of the prison and the presence of policemen and soldiers were not to scare off the relatives of the remanded pro-Biafran women protesters.
He said, “We did not ordinarily deny family members access to the pr0-Biafran women who are in our facility. There is no order from above asking us not to allow relatives of the women access to them. It is not also true that we exposed the women, especially the pregnant ones, too the cold and inhuman environment.
“It is taxing to admit and register 112 people in any prison facility in Nigeria. You don’t just bring people into the prisons and the next minute you want people to start visiting them. Prison is a regimented environment. There are regulations. The responsibility of interviewing, admitting and registering such a number of women would take four days. It is after these processes that you now allow family members to start visiting.” (Punch)