The Nigerian Correctional Service (NCoS), has explained why it permitted a 300-level Mass Communication student of the University of Lagos, Chidinma Ojukwu, and other inmates at its facilities to participate in a beauty pageant.
The beauty pageant was held within the Kirikiri prisons on Tuesday, March 8, 2022, and Miss Ojukwu was said to have been crowned Miss Cell 2022.
The pictures of Chidinma, (a prime suspect, currently standing trial for the alleged murder of the Chief Executive Officer of Super TV, Usifo Ataga, in June 2021), had flooded social media since Wednesday and sent tongues wagging on the propriety or otherwise of allowing non-convicts such as Miss Ojukwu to participate in the event.
But the NCoS Lagos State Command said the pageant was only one of several other activities organised to mark International Women’s Day (IWD).
The IWD is celebrated annually on March 8, to commemorate the social, political and economic achievements of women.
Examining why the Service allowed Chidinma and other inmates participate in the event, Spokesperson of the Command, Superintendent Rotimi Oladokun, said the pageant and other events were open to all female inmates, whether convicted or awaiting trial.
“I haven’t seen the pictures you are talking about. But in line with International Women’s Day, the female custodial facilities commemorated International Women’s Day with inmates, various inmates without distinction or discrimination against anybody – an inmate is an inmate.
“All the inmates in different cell blocks presented various programmes. Some did theatre presentations, others drama, some poetry, some beauty pageant, some drawings, paintings, comedy. So, various blocks won. It was just like an inter-cell block event.
“There were lots of presentations. It was not an individual thing. It was just the facility’s way of trying to reform the inmates, those still in custody.
“So, that’s why they commemorated International Women’s Day, that’s why it was done in the female facility, not the male’s”, said Oladokun.
Referring to Chidinma, the Spokesperson said: “The particular inmate, I don’t know her name. There were various winners.
“The costumes were made by the inmates in the facility and some of the winners got sponsorship to pay for their UME forms, NECO, WASSCE and higher education.
“Some donated libraries to us, apart from some other stationery, and welfare resources. It was not an individual event, so the prizes were collective.”
Oladokun, who explained that Chidinma could have been a representative of a block added, “There were representatives for each block, so maybe the inmate you are referring to was one of such representatives, but it was not an individual event, it was a collective one commemorating International Women’s Day.”