Ex-bank manager turns prisons lecturer while awaiting trial

Ex-bank manager turns prisons lecturer while awaiting trial

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He’s one of the 1,963 persons awaiting trial at the Ikoyi Prisons in Lagos but he’s an inmate with a difference. He was once a bank manager but a money laundering case landed him in the prison over eight years ago.
But rather than pining away like most prison inmates, Mr. Henry Oronsaye decided to take it upon himself to engage in some intellectual enterprise to keep himself psychologically and mentally balanced and also to help other inmates to realize their academic dreams.
Now, to many other inmates at the prison, the former bank manager is a lecturer plying his trade within the walls of the prison.
Oronsaye, a 42-year-old accountant, has been on detention in the prison since 2008 over an alleged money laundering crime perpetrated in the bank where he used to work as the branch manager.
Our correspondent gathered that the father of four, who hails from Ovia in Edo State, had also been standing trial for fraud before a Lagos State High Court in the past eight years.
It was learnt that Oronsaye, who pleaded that the name of his former employers should not be mentioned, was accused of giving approval to the diversion of the bank’s funds and when the fraud was discovered, he was arrested, arraigned in court on a three-count charge and remanded in prison.
Unfortunately, he soon fell victim to the endemic problem of delay in the dispensation of justice bedeviling the Nigerian judiciary and court system.
The cause of the former bank manager’s current travail, our correspondent learnt, is connected with the fact that the judge handling his case fell sick for about two years, contributing to the long delay in the matter.
When our correspondent visited the prisons on Saturday on the occasion of the inauguration of the Ikoyi Prisons Sports Academy, Oronsaye lamented that his parents and siblings had abandoned him in the prison. untitledHe added that his wife and children remained the only comfort and solace left for him.
Oronsaye said, “I come from a royal family in Edo State.I lived in Edo but came to work in Lagos State as a manager of one of the financial institutions, which I do not want to disclose. I am a trained accountant. I was brought here over financial fraud.
“I was the manager of the institution. Along the line, there were transactions that passed through my table as the financial controller and which were approved by the general director. But because I had some personal issues with him, he later turned the transactions against me. The transactions were to the tune of N200m.
“The trial started and had to stop for two years, because the judge hearing the matter fell sick for two years. The case is before a Lagos State High Court. I am the only accused in the matter. My lawyer tried to find out why the case was being delayed, and it was discovered that the judge’s sickness was responsible. So, I have been here for eight years. I am still awaiting trial.
“I come from a royal family and my parents are not happy that I am here. They have abandoned me. But my nuclear family members still come to visit me. My wife is supportive.”
Oronsaye added that he had taken up a lecturing job in prison, teaching other inmates preparing for examinations subjects such as Accounting and Economics.
“The prison facilities are not 100 percent conducive, but to a great deal, things have improved. I teach in the prison. I teach other inmates preparing for examinations. As a qualified accountant, I teach them Accounting and Economics to prepare for the external examinations,” he said.
However, it was also learnt that although the accused was given bail conditions, which included having sureties with landed properties in the Ikoyi area, the former bank manager could not meet the stringent requirements.
Inspite of his current ordeal, Oronsaye is still optimistic that he would soon regain his freedom, saying, “I see myself coming out of here, probably next year, by the grace of God. My lawyer is doing his best. I was standing trial on a threecount charge.”
The Public Relations Officer, Nigeria Prisons Service, Lagos State Command, Mr. Biyi Jeje, said that the inmates had been taken through different reformative and rehabilitative programmes to ensure that they came out as better citizens.
The Deputy Controller of Prisons, Ikoyi Prisons, Julius Ezugwu, said despite the overpopulation of the facility by the inmates, the command had continued to strive to be a genuine correctional institution for reformation.
“The prison was built in 1955 with a lock-up capacity of 800 inmates. However, our open-out today stands at 2,303 inmates. While the inmates awaiting trial are 1,963; those convicted already are 340 inmates.
“It is worthy of mention that in spite of the large inmate population and the predominance of persons awaiting trial, Ikoyi prisons is run as a genuine correctional institution for reformation and rehabilitation of offenders, ” Ezugwu said.

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