By Obidike Jerry
Embassy Pharmaceutical and chemicals Limited recently brought succour to the inmates of Ikoyi Prisons. The managing director of the company, Sir Nnamdi Obi, visited the facility and donated drugs worth more than N4 million.
The drugs, including multivitamins, anti-fungal, cold and flu medications, were meant to help the facility ward off episodes of skin rashes and other ailments currently afflicting the inmates due to congestion. The facility originally meant to accommodate about 800 inmates currently holds about 2600.
Sir Nnamdi Obi, who was on an innocuous visit to the prison facility, felt sorry about the unhealthy condition of the inmates. He promised the officials he would come back to mitigate their condition.
Less than 24 hours later, Sir Obi returned with the drugs. While handing over the drugs to Ezugwu Julius, Deputy Controller of Prison, in charge of Ikoyi Prison, he explained that government could not meet the health needs of Nigerians alone.
“Of course we know government does not have the capacity to provide all that is needed because of competing demands nationwide. So, we at Embassy Pharmaceuticals do see it as an obligation on our own part to assist in our own little way towards mitigating the suffering of those inmates,” he said.
He added that there was a thin line between freedom and imprisonment.“It could be any of us. Some of them are awaiting trial for many years for something they know nothing about. Our justice system is not at its best. So a lot of our people are found behind bars for offences they did not commit. It happens in an advanced clime like the United States where somebody who had been jail for 24 years was recently released because the authorities found he was innocent of the crime. That’s why we felt touched and decided to lend a helping hand,” he said.
Responding, Ezugwu thanked the company for the pleasant surprise. He said: “Because of overcrowding, we now experience health challenges like measles and rashes outbreak here. The drugs you donated are very relevant to these health challenges. The number of inmates here is much. As at today we have 2601 inmates.
“Incarceration is nothing more than deprivation of liberty. So while they are in custody here, we try to make the prison environment humane and we take care of their health. So by this donation, you have really touched the lives of the inmates.
“The government has been trying her best, but you know government alone cannot do it all. So this will go a long way to complementing the supplies we have been getting from our national headquarters.”
He gave assurance that the drugs would be judiciously utilized. His words:“My promise is that all the inmates will benefit from this and it will go a long way to improving the health of the inmates. I thank you on behalf of Lagos State Command, Ladipo Tunde and myself and the staff here and the entire inmates.”
Ezugwu called on other individuals and corporate bodies to follow the example of Embassy, reiterating that imprisonment was a deprivation of liberty, a kind of punishment for infringing the law. “We should therefore not inflict more injury by making the prison condition very harsh,” he added. “Imprisonment should not have adverse impact on them. They are still Nigerians, and after imprisonment they will still go back to the society. That is why we should not make them to vent their anger on society when they live here.”
Embassy Pharmaceuticals, it was gathered, has for long been involved in giving to humanitarian causes.
Sir Obi said: “We just came to the prison for the first time, but as part of our corporate social responsibility, we have donated drugs to the Nigerian Army, to the Nigeria Police and we do have a foundation that annually cater to the medical needs of our people, my town and its environs.
“We had in the past donated drugs to Zone Two Command of the Nigeria Police and maintained a nurse with them for two years. This happened because a nurse that accompanied us on that trip discovered after random checks that some of the officers had high blood pressure.And they never knew about it. This random check happened because we donated anti high blood pressure drugs on that day. So we felt there was the need for us to maintain that nurse there to monitor their blood pressure daily and we kept her for two years. She was eventually employed by the Nigeria Police.
“We have an annual medical outreach under the auspices of Ezenwa-Virginia Obi Foundation instituted in memory of our dear parents-Ezenwa and Virginia. On yearly basis we spend an enormous amount of money in getting medical doctors, pharmacists, optometrists, ophthalmologists, nurses to take care of the medical needs of our people. After that, people are taken to Oji for their cataract operation.
“One thing that gladdens my heart is that people from my town and neighbouring communities also benefit. Last year we had a paediatric surgeon in the team. And the medical needs of children were taken care of.
“And under the auspices of Association of Pharmaceutical Importers of Nigeria (APIN),I have been privileged to be at the helm of affairs. That time we donated drugs, food items and other gifts to the tune of N75 Million to the military under the leadership of Air Marshal Alex Badeh, former Chief of Defence Staff, to help containthe Boko Haram insurgency.”
Sir Obi enjoined corporate bodies and individuals in Nigeria to develop a mind for charity.