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FREEDOM PARK (History and the prisons’ famous inmates)

FREEDOM PARK (History and the prisons’ famous inmates)

Freedom Park was only just completed in 2010. Before then, it was the Broad Street Prison.
Located in 1, Hospital Road, Old Prison Ground, Broad Street, Lagos Island, Lagos, tourists come from around the world to visit the recreational culture center. It is one popular things to do in Lagos. Its grounds which are adorned with various historical and cultural monuments as well as the museum complex which houses amazing historical artifacts on display at the museum, including colonial artifacts, make Freedom park a haven for Lagos history.
However, the stories that lay behind this park hold both horrors and conquests.

Her Majesty’s Broad Street Prison (History)
Lagos Island became a British colony in 1861, when the British gunship threatened the then Oba of Lagos, Oba Dosunmu (1853-1885). Hence, the need for a formal system of law arose and in 1876, the government passed the prisons ordinance that introduced their own concept of criminal justice to the colony to keep order and protect their interests.
A penal system, needing a prison, was then constructed in 1882 in the form of mud walls and grass thatch, initially with the design to hold 20 prisoners, but it did not last long because according to Theo Lawson, the architect of Freedom Park, opponents of British colonialism in Lagos “kept throwing fire into it and setting it ablaze and so then in 1885 the colonial government imported bricks from England and rebuilt the prison”.
Broad Street Prison was then rebuilt with £16,000 and in 1898, 676 males, 26 females, and 11 juveniles were imprisoned at Broad Street prison in just that year according to the colonial reports.

The prison held political prisoners including notable inmates like:                                                                                                                                                   Herbert Macaulay                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             Anthony Enahoro                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Obafemi Awolowo                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Michael Imoudu                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              It is said that a curse was laid on the prison grounds by Chief Awolowo which led to its destruction in 1979. It was eventually reduced to a dumping ground until the 1990s when plans were drawn up to transform the site into a creative space.
Designed by the Architect Theo Lawson, the Park was constructed to preserve the history and cultural heritage of Nigerians and mark Nigeria’s 50th anniversary independence celebration in October, 2010. Monuments in the park reveal the Lagos colonial heritage and history of Her Majesty’s Broad Street prisons.
The former records office was turned into a museum complex and the old prison block was converted into a food court, built as a replica of the tiny prison blocks.

The park provides venues and the grounds for events and recreational entertainment,with relevant facilities like:
Open Air Stage
Amphi-theatre
Pergola Cell (internet booths)
Skeletal Cells
Food Court
Ponds and Fountains
Historical Statues
Museum Complex- Historical displays-Souvenir shops-Resource centre-Court yard- Cells Units.
Wole Soyinka Art Gallery

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