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Colonial Systems of Control

Colonial Systems of Control: Criminal Justice in Nigeria

VIVIANE SALEH-HANNA
Copyright Date: 2008
Pages: 534
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt1ckph37
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    Colonial Systems of Control
    Book Description:

    A pioneering book on prisons in West Africa,Colonial Systems of Control:CriminalJustice in Nigeriais the first comprehensive presentation of life inside a West African prison. Chapters by prisoners inside Kirikiri maximum security prison in Lagos, Nigeria are published alongside chapters by scholars and activists. While prisoners document the daily realities and struggles of life inside a Nigerian prison, scholar and human rights activist Viviane Saleh-Hanna provides historical, political, and academic contexts and analyses of the penal system in Nigeria. The European penal models and institutions imported to Nigeria during colonialism are exposed as intrinsically incoherent with the community-based conflict-resolution principles of most African social structures and justice models. This book presents the realities of imprisonment in Nigeria while contextualizing the colonial legacies that have resulted in the inhumane brutalities that are endured on a daily basis.

    eISBN: 978-0-7766-1749-7
    Subjects: Sociology, History
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Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents (pp. vii-xvi)
  3. ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS (pp. xvii-xx)
  4. FOREWORD (pp. xxi-xxviii)
    Julia Sudbury

    In August 2002 prison activists and scholars from the United States, Canada, Australia, and across the African continent travelled to Lagos, Nigeria, for the Tenth International Conference on Penal Abolition (ICOPA X). Coordinated by Viviane Saleh-Hanna, then a staff member at Prisoners Rehabilitation and Welfare Action, the conference challenged those of us involved in prison activism and research to examine our unstated Western bias. Although often extremely knowledgeable about prison systems and anti-prison movements in the United States, Canada, and Europe, few of us knew anything about penal systems in West Africa. Indeed, we had most commonly defined the concerns,...

  5. CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION: COLONIAL SYSTEMS OF CONTROL (pp. 1-14)
    Viviane Saleh-Hanna

    A long dirt road begins with the casual barrel of a gun, guarding a boundary, allowing selective access to outsiders and controlled exit to insiders. The few outsiders who are allowed to step past those guns and over the invisible, mysterious line in Kirikiri are faced with tall concrete walls inflicting visible boundaries and guns illustrating more clearly the visual and violent infliction of control. All visible boundaries within the Nigerian Prison ‘Service’ grounds are accentuated by the binding green gates built into the concrete walls, meant to function as points of transition between the two worlds: the world inside...

  6. SECTION I: CONTEXTUALIZING NIGERIA
    • CHAPTER 2 PENAL COLONIALITY (pp. 17-54)
      Viviane Saleh-Hanna

      Because colonialism is such a highly complex and intrusive process, defining it and articulating the depths of its brutality have been a struggle as difficult as the sociopolitical fight for liberation from it. The definitions of colonialism presented in the 1950s continue to be highly relevant and accurate in capturing what Africans experience today. Furnivall stated in 1956 that “colonization originally implied settlement, but the tropics have been colonized with capital rather than men, and most tropical countries under foreign rule are dependencies rather than colonies, though in practice both terms are used indifferently” (1). This understanding that imposed dependencies...

    • CHAPTER 3 AN EVOLUTION OF THE PENAL SYSTEM: CRIMINAL JUSTICE IN NIGERIA (pp. 55-68)
      Viviane Saleh-Hanna and Chukwuma Ume

      This chapter looks at the historical circumstances that came together to implement the Nigerian Prison Service and how they have affected its performance. What challenges has the institution been confronted with? The chapter also attempts to offer scenarios for the future. The first section looks at the justice system that existed before the advent of colonialism, the second section compares colonial penal systems and postcolonial penal systems, while the third section examines present penal systems and indicates options for responses. In laying out this history, we refer to geographical locations in Nigeria, and the following map will serve as a...

    • CHAPTER 4 THE MILITARIZATION OF NIGERIAN SOCIETY (pp. 69-118)
      Biko Agozino and Unyierie Idem

      The dominant wisdom, a year and a half after Olusegun Obasanjo assumed office as Nigeria’s president in May 1999, is that the country is now a democracy. It is true, of course, that elections were held and that candidates vied for various positions on the platforms of political parties, as a consequence of which a democratically elected government, along with a National Assembly and its counterparts in the states, are now in power. As I have argued elsewhere, however, polling booths and voters are not all that make a democracy. Indeed, democracy, at its core, is a state of mind,...

  7. SECTION II: NIGERIAN PRISONS:: VOICES FROM INSIDE
    • CHAPTER 5 ANOTHER FACE OF SLAVERY (pp. 121-126)
      Osadolor Eribo

      After the abolition of slavery and the slave trade towards the end of the eighteenth century, people around the world, particularly the black race, were gladdened in body and in mind because it marked the beginning of the end of a savage and barbaric era. But little did the people of Africa and Nigeria in particular know that in less than a century would come a period of decadence, a society that is reminiscent of the era of slavery. The “elites” in Nigerian society returned to the continent and came to see themselves as our messiahs, sent here to guide...

    • CHAPTER 6 MY NIGERIAN PRISON EXPERIENCE (pp. 127-130)
      Clever Akporherhe

      I, Clever Akporherhe, stayed in Kirikin medium security prison for a period of one year and six months. On the day of my admission I became seriously sick. I complained to the officer or warden, but I was told that I would be taken to the clinic on Monday. I arrived on Friday. In reality I was never taken to the clinic.

      On arrival I was taken to the “welcome cell” meant for new inmates. There the prison “INTERPOL” tortured us with whips and asked us to bend our heads while sitting on the floor. We were about 250 men,...

    • CHAPTER 7 MY STORY (pp. 131-140)
      Chris Affor

      On April 24, 1994, I heard a knock on my office door. Before I could even say “come in,” two men entered. One of them was my boss; I tried to read the expression on his face, but it was blank, and I knew right away that I did not like the air around either his looks or the looks of the man standing next to him. That man was following closely behind my boss, not allowing any distance. Initially that did not have any meaning to me. My boss’s voice echoed, “Mr. Chris, I don’t know what it’s all...

    • CHAPTER 8 A TRIBUTE TO SOLIDARITY: MY OASIS (pp. 141-146)
      Chris Affor

      I regret that I don’t have the words to express the depth of my gratitude; I would have started to write a heart-felt appreciation long overdue that put “golden tears” on my face even at a dreadful point of emotional and psychological breakdown, when I was eaten up by pessimism and despair, attracting insanity and suicide. There came a turning point, the PRAWA Circle,¹ which introduced prisoners to calculated, sifted, and refined reconciliation, social reformative measures aimed at diluting tension, anger, depression, and raw desire for vengeance. We prisoners together have learned to survive as one. Words do not come...

    • CHAPTER 9 JUNE 14, 2003 (pp. 147-148)
      Igho Odibo

      Greetings,

      I am Mr. Igho Odibo, forty-two years of age, and am currently held in Kirikiri maximum security prison in Lagos, Nigeria. I was a student in Germany, studying computer assembly, before I contracted HIV/AIDS and was deported back to Nigeria in 1998. I was handed over to the Nigerian federal government for medical treatment, but they did not provide any. I have started to battle with the federal government along with battling my illness. I am currently in prison, where there is no medical treatment available to me at all. It’s only some non-governmental organizations and human rights agencies...

    • CHAPTER 10 THE SYSTEM I HAVE COME TO KNOW (pp. 149-152)
      Sylvester Monday Anagaba

      June 18, 2003

      I was arrested on April 17,1992. I was taken to the Lagos State Police Command in Ikeja, where I was hung like a monkey from the ceiling, with my hands holding up the rest of my body. This was done to me twice for long periods of time in one night, all in the name of “investigation.” The second time they strung me up to the ceiling I passed out, only to wake up the next morning with my hands and legs paralyzed from the hanging, and my whole body covered with bruises and blood. I was...

    • CHAPTER 11 MAN’S INHUMANITY TO MAN (pp. 153-156)
      Sylvester Monday Anagaba

      Game hunting is a jungle sport, but in this inside world known as maximum security prison men are still being hunted like game. It is a cruel, dehumanizing mechanism they call rehabilitation; it is a system that is nothing more than a refined method of slavery — all the ethics of enslavement are very much alive, mostly in the blood of the colonial slave drivers known as wardens or prison guards.

      I have been in this prison for nine years now, but something that I cannot forget until they put me inside a grave took place on May 20, 1995....

    • CHAPTER 12 PATRIOTISM: ILLUSION OR REALITY? (pp. 157-170)
      Osadolor Eribo

      The epoch of political instability, chaos, ethnic rivalry, and the continued existence of colonial boundaries defining nations in West Africa gave birth to a period of armed insurgence and war in the West African countries of Liberia and Sierra Leone. This unrest culminated in military peacekeeping operations by many West African countries, and these efforts were spearheaded by Nigeria.

      As a patriotic person with the burning desire to ensure that the world can provide dignified life for all, irrespective of class or nationality, I saw it as an honour when I was short-listed by my country’s army for military peacekeeping...

  8. SECTION III: COLONIAL SYSTEMS OF IMPRISONMENT:: GENDER, POVERTY AND MENTAL HEALTH IN PRISON
    • CHAPTER 13 NIGERIAN PENAL INTERACTIONS (pp. 173-222)
      Viviane Saleh-Hanna

      The reflections presented in this chapter emerge from a daily journal I kept during my time as a community organizer and activist inside Nigerian prisons. The experiences I had were inundated with visual brutality, mental stimulation, and political conversation. In attempting to keep myself grounded, and in trying to grasp the larger picture, I found myself creating mental snapshots of the details that eventually combined to form a mosaic that made sense to me, according to the things I saw, heard, and thought while I sat inside prison yards and conversed with Nigerian prisoners. These words are an attempt to...

    • CHAPTER 14 WOMEN’S RIGHTS BEHIND WALLS (pp. 223-244)
      Mechthild Nagel

      In the 1990s a global political consensus emerged that “women’s rights” are also “human rights.” In particular, the Beijing Women’s Conference set forth an ambitious agenda, and activistscholars in the global South began circulating ideas and papers on “putting women in the centre of analysis.” I believe this focus is necessary, especially when it comes to critiquing the current prison system worldwide. Globalization has altered family relations and consumer behaviours, further marginalizing women in caste and class societies. There has been little research done on the impact of globalization on incarcerated women in Africa, with perhaps the notable exception of...

    • CHAPTER 15 NIGERIAN WOMEN IN PRISON: HOSTAGES IN LAW (pp. 245-266)
      Biko Agozino

      As I was writing this chapter, news reached me that a Nigerian female journalist, Isioma Daniel, had been sentenced to death by a deputy governor of a self-proclaimed Islamic state in Nigeria for writing an article that Muslims consider blasphemous. The article, published byThis Daynewspaper, suggested that the Prophet Mohammed would have liked to marry some of the beauty queens who were in Nigeria to contest for the Miss World crown. In the protest that ensued over 200 innocent Nigerians were slaughtered, and the organizers were forced to shift the venue for the finals of the competition to...

    • CHAPTER 16 PROTECTING THE HUMAN RIGHTS OF PEOPLE WITH MENTAL HEALTH DISABILITIES IN AFRICAN PRISONS (pp. 267-290)
      Uju Agomoh

      Persons with mental illnesses often face unique difficulties in ensuring respect for their basic human rights, both in the community and in mental institutions. There is growing international recognition of this fact and a consensus across the criminal justice spectrum that something has gone painfully wrong: “the nation’s [US] jails and prisons have become mental health facilities — a role for which they are singularly illequipped” (Fellner and Abramsky 2004). It has been argued that the mentally ill are victims of two failed public policies: the failure of public officials to ensure an effective mental health system, and an overly...

  9. SECTION IV: RESISTANCE
    • [SECTION IV: Introduction] (pp. 291-292)

      In addressing issues of colonialism and the continued implementation of colonial institutions in “former” European colonies in Africa, it is important to recognize that Africans have resisted these oppressions and continue to resist them. This section presents two main types of resistance: the first is political, and the second is academic.

      Colonialism functioned on both these levels. During their occupation of African territories Europeans utilized a sociopolitical level of oppression. Entire social structures, government policies, and racist policies were imported into Africa from Europe in exchange for the export of African economic and material resources. Fela Kuti was a Nigerian...

    • CHAPTER 17 WOMEN, LAW, AND RESISTANCE IN NORTHERN NIGERIA: UNDERSTANDING THE INADEQUACIES OF WESTERN SCHOLARSHIP (pp. 293-354)
      Viviane Saleh-Hanna

      Colonialism in West Africa imposed foreignlegal systemsupon ethnically and structurally diverse regions that functioned in complex, precolonial, non-Western contexts. Colonial legal systems played a key role in the process of colonization because they defined and(il)legalizedbusiness transactions and codes of conduct among colonizers and colonized, and eventually came to(il)legalizeinteractions among colonized populations (Bentsi-Enchill 1969); this recent colonial era has left West Africa functioning in complex sociolegal settings. This chapter focuses on women in the contemporary northern Nigerian context: their interactions with pluralities of law in northern Nigeria, and the modes of resistance¹ they employ in...

    • CHAPTER 18 FELA KUTI’S WAHALA MUSIC: POLITICAL RESISTANCE THROUGH SONG (pp. 355-376)
      Viviane Saleh-Hanna

      Music was used as a culturally appropriate tool of political resistance by Fela Kuti in Nigeria during an era of military regimes. Within the historical and spiritual contexts of Fela’s work, the power of this tool is understood both as empowering for the people and as threatening to the state. This is true in Nigeria, and in other nations where people continue to resist state authoritarianism, and the implementation of racist and colonial, structural and institutional, inequalities. In Nigeria cultural resistance to colonial structures thrives in music. Antonio Gramsci in hisPrison Notebooksemphasized the power of cultural resistance and...

  10. SECTION V: STEPPING BEYOND THE COLONIAL PENAL BOX:: AFRICAN JUSTICE MODELS AND PENAL ABOLITIONISM
    • [SECTION V: Introduction] (pp. 377-378)

      This book presents information that illuminates the criminal and colonial foundations and structures of the penal system. In light of such information it is important to present information about African justice models, and bring forth efforts in African nations to rely less on penal colonial institutions and more on community-oriented methods of social control. In presenting this section it is necessary to address the obstacles that stand in the way of progress. The first obstacle is a psychological one: for generations global societies have been bombarded with the constant and inaccurate assumption that the penal system is the only option...

    • CHAPTER 19 ALTERNATIVES TO IMPRISONMENT: COMMUNITY SERVICE ORDERS IN AFRICA (pp. 379-394)
      Chukwuma Ume

      The observations above are apt to describe penal institutions in most developing countries, Nigeria included. Indeed, they categorically sum up the problems that have bedevilled imprisonment and, by extension, entire criminal justice administrations on the African continent, particularly in Nigeria. To this end one may ask the following questions.

      Does the status quo offer justice and security to the people?

      To what extent have the agents of the criminal justice system, particularly of the prisons, been able to administer justice and enhance social cohesion, as expected of them statutorily?

      To unravel these questions and many other salient ones, this chapter...

    • CHAPTER 20 THE IGBO INDIGENOUS JUSTICE SYSTEM (pp. 395-416)
      O. Oko Elechi

      This chapter examines the indigenous justice system of the Igbo of southeast Nigeria from restorative, transformative, and communitarian principles. The Igbo, like other societies in Africa/had a well-developed, efficient, and effective mechanism for maintaining law and order prior to colonialism. These social control practices and processes were rooted in the traditions, cultures, and customs of Igbo people. However, the Igbo system was relegated to the background by the British colonial authorities, who installed their own versions of “justice”: the common, civil, and criminal legal institutions. The Nigerian postcolonial government has inherited this practice from the colonial era and continues to...

    • CHAPTER 21 PENAL ABOLITIONIST THEORIES AND IDEOLOGIES (pp. 417-456)
      Viviane Saleh-Hanna

      Penal abolitionist academic discourse emerges through the critical criminological academic context, with subparadigmatic affiliations to radical criminology. The emergence of radical criminology occurred when critical criminology could no longer fully satisfy all the theories that emerged as critical of the social order. Radical criminology builds upon critical criminological attempts to question mainstream criminological discourse. While critical criminologists work to expose the oppressive status quo that mainstream (mainly classical and positivist) criminology scientifically works to maintain, radical criminologists present a level of analysis that promotes a more accurate questioning of crime and the (dys)functions of law: “The groundbreaking argument for redefining...

    • CHAPTER 22 THE TENTH INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON PENAL ABOLITION (ICOPA X) (pp. 457-488)
      Viviane Saleh-Hanna

      This book has presented the ideological and practical problems of criminal justice in Nigeria. Colonial impositions prevail in Africa, and will continue to do so as long as British colonial criminal justice systems continue to exist there. Having outlined the problems associated with the penal system in Nigeria, and having illustrated the structural and ideological issues that exist along with the penal system in general, I find it necessary to provide an ideological and activist context within which such issues can be addressed. This is best accomplished through penal abolitionism,penalbeing a representation of all institutions legally yet violently...

  11. INDEX (pp. 489-505)
  12. Back Matter (pp. 506-506)