Bloody clash @ Nsawam Prisons
By Stephen Odoi-Larbi
Activities at the Nsawam Medium Prisons came to a standstill in the early hours of Saturday, when a lifer (a person who has been sentenced to life imprisonment) pounced on a Muslim inmate and subjected him to severe beatings for no apparent reason.
Michael Nyavor, who is the Black Coat (prisoner appointed to lead other inmates) of Block 1 in the prison yard, approached his colleague inmate, one Abidim, and started slapping him.
Abidim, who is an Imam, according to eye witnesses, was given some slaps which compelled him to also retaliate by giving Black Coat some hefty slaps as well.
Abidim’s action angered the rest of the Black Coats, including the National Leader, one Owusu, and his assistant, one Acheampong, who joined the fray, pounced on Abidim and subjected him to severe beatings.
A prison inmate, who witnessed the incident, recounted: “One would have considered him (Abidim) as a casualty of a serious road crash. He had blood oozing from his nose and ears, with bruises on some parts of his body.”
Not satisfied with their action, the Black Coats took Abidim to the prison officers, who meted out punishment by locking him up in the prison yard. Incensed by the exploits of the Black Coats, some Muslim inmates, supported by some Christians, started pursuing the assailants of Abidim.
This resulted in a bloody clash between the two factions. The Black Coats came under severe attack and took to their heels to seek refuge at the administration block.
The other faction, bent on seeking revenge for Abidim, lay in ambush at the back of the administration block, thinking that the Black Coats would soon be released. With time running out, and the Black Coats not coming out, the inmates supporting Abidim became irritated and started accusing the prison officer in charge, of shielding the wrong-doers.
According to the inmates, some of the prison officers had delegated authority to the Black Coats to discipline their colleague inmates when they go wrong.
They added: “The manner in which these Black Coats beat the other prisoners is uncalled for.” Visitors were held outside the gates of the prison for hours on end, while police reinforcement was called to control the situation.
Though no death was recorded, the clash was described as one of the bloodiest in the history of the Nsawam Medium Prisons.
Some time ago, The Chronicle received a report from the Nsawam Prison that one Fofo Zotu was terrorising inmates by beating them with a lorry tyre at the infirmary, while nothing was done by the authorities to stop him.
The Chief Public Relations Officer, ASP Courage Atsem, speaking on Joy News, said the scuffle broke when a Muslim inmate flouted instructions by his senior, who is a Christian inmate, but stressed that the situation had been brought under control.
He told listeners of the local radio station that the two would be punished according to rules governing the behaviour of prisoners in the yard. Calm has since returned to the prison yard.
Some inmates, who spoke to The Chronicle on condition of anonymity, called on the prison authorities to ensure that they were properly fed, since they have had enough of the usual one-way meal of banku or gari.
“You normally see banku and gari being thrown into the dustbins by the inmates. This is a clear testimony that we are fed-up with only those foods. Ever since the government increased our allowance from 60p to GH¢1.80p, the value and size has always been the same,” one inmate alleged.
They also called on the prison authorities to scrap the portion on visitors’ cards requesting the phone numbers of friends, family members and relatives who visit the inmates. According to them, some officers abuse this confidentiality by calling relatives of inmates to tell them all kinds of bad stories about them.
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