The Senate yesterday was thrown into a bout of laughter when Senator Gabriel Suswam (PDP, Benue North East) said for anyone to be a good leader, the person “must spend one or two days in prison”.
Suswam stated this while contributing to a motion on “the Need to upgrade, decongest and disinfect Correctional Centres Nationwide” sponsored by Senator Uche Lilian Ekwunife (PDP, Anambra Central).
Suswam was remanded in Kuje Correctional Centre for two days in June 2017 for alleged diversion of N9.7bn SURE-P fund.
He said, “I want to support this motion based on my experience (in Kuje Correctional Centre) and when I left, I recommended that for people to be proper leaders in this country, at least each and every one of us must spend one or two days in prison.”
But Senate President Ahmad Lawan interjected amid laughter from the lawmakers, saying “anyone who served as a governor, yes and deputy governor probably.”
Suswam then continued, “Like what the former Minister, Abba Moro said earlier, I went there, they took me there in the night. The following day in the morning, the entire prison knew I was there. I sat down there from morning to evening because there were a lot of young people there.
“There was a young man who has spent 10 years there for just a problem of N10,000. Various individuals were there on very minor offences that the police can afford to correct them and send them home.
“I made it a point of duty that when I left that place. For the next one month, I took close to 20 young people out of that place. It didn’t take anything, just pay the money, send them back to court. I selected three lawyers who I sent to Kuje prison.
“Most of the people that are there don’t need to be there and they unduly congest the place,” he said.
Senator Ibrahim Gobir, (Sokoto East) also disagreed with Suswam, describing Nigerian prison as a college for criminals.
“It is college for criminals. People become hardened criminals. Prisons are owned by government and the correctional centres are owned by individuals.
“If we can improve them to be well-secured and well-rehabilitated, it would be a good development,” Gobir stated.