Feyisayo Soyombo, the investigative journalist who went undercover to track corruption in Nigeria’s justice system, by going to prison as a criminal, disguised himself as a drug addict and went to a psychiatric hospital in Yaba, Lagos, Nigeria.
According to him, after receiving two unrelated complaints about Yaba mental health facility, he decided to alter his looks with the help of a doctor friend based abroad.
To help devise a medically impregnable entry strategy, I enlisted the services of a US-based mental health expert. When we communicated for the first time in the first week of October, he explained I could only enter as a drug addict requiring rehabilitation after abusing marijuana and cocaine. If I faked the regular, mentally-ill patient, I would definitely be found out, he explained.
“That means I have to ingest cocaine just before I go in?” I asked. With the benefit of hindsight, I was only displaying the naivety that made me know I had to contact him in the first place”, he wrote.
In two-part series, Soyombo detailed how officials at the Yaba facility are fleecing patients by taking bribes before providing essential services such as bed spaces for patients.
He said that on his first day of arrival at the facility was turned back because of lack of bed space but he kept coming until he struck a deal with one of the orderlies who promised to give him a bed for a fee.
He said not only are the officials corrupt, but they also do so brazenly without a care in the world.
He said the food served at the facility is not fit for human consumption despite repeated complaints from inmates.
“Dinner, served every 6 pm, was eba and egusi, but I waited until a little after 8 pm before eating. It was the first time in decades I was seeing eba so full of lumps, and egusi so bland and watery. Even though I had not eaten all day, I lost my appetite instantly. I had ingested no more than three morsels when I spotted a strand of local sponge in the egusi. I showed my ‘neighbour’, he said.
He said anytime an inmate complained of poor services, they would change their medications by slipping in sleeping pills in the patient’s treatment. This makes sure that they don’t become unruly and disrupt the peace of the place.