Enugu jail break 15 prisoners escaped
PREMIUM TIMES learnt that the incident happened at night when inmates opened the cell and scaled the fence.
The Comptroller of Nsukka Prisons, Lawrence Okonkwo, confirmed the jailbreak but gave no details.
“We are expecting the Enugu State Prisons controller, Mr. Isaiah Amateur in Nsukka prisons so that we briefed him on what happened last night,” he said.
“He will be the one to tell the public number of inmates that escaped, re-arrested ones and efforts put in place to arrest those still on the run.”
Premium Times reporter gathered that two of the escaped inmates were re-arrested Wednesday morning by security agents.
A reliable source at the prisons, who asked not to be named because he was authorised to speak on the matter, said, “The inmates carefully open their cells and scaled the prison wall.
“Before prison officials on night duty know what was happening about 15 inmates have escaped.”
The overcrowded Nsukka prison currently accommodates about 500 inmates. It was built to house 180 inmates.
There were recent jailbreaks in Kuje in the Federal Capital Territory and the Kotonkarfe Prison in Kogi state, leading to the escape of several inmates.
Better facilities and adequate security
The Medium Prison in Nsukka, Enugu state has received a new look 92 years after it was built by the British colonial masters.
The reporter who visited the prison in company of the Nigeria Prisons Service officials reports that the federal government replaced the old and dilapidating buildings with newly constructed 36 cell building.
Speaking during inspection of the prison in Nsukka on Tuesday, the Comptroller of Prisons, Enugu, Ndubuisi Ogbodo, said the new project was embarked by the Minister of Interior, Abdulrahman Dambazzau.
“The old cells were built in 1926 by the British colonial masters and were dilapidated and outdated so that is why the federal government decided to build a new one to accommodate more inmates.
“We had a seven-cell building at the prison and they are aged but the new 36 cells all en suite have better facilities and adequate security.
“The project constructed under the watchful eyes of the Comptroller General, Mr Ahmed Jafaru, is 90 per cent completed,’’ he said.
The comptroller expressed satisfaction with the progress of work and promised that it would be completed in no distant time.
He commended the inmates on their participation in the skill acquisition programme in the prison.
“We have tailoring, carpentry and electrical workshops in the prisons and they are all functional,’’ he said.
Mr Ogbodo said the prison also had data capturing machine for proper documentation of inmates.
Some of the inmates listed their challenges including delay in trial and non-legal representation adding that many of them had stayed over a decade without trial.
The comptroller was conducted round the prison by the Deputy Coomptroller in charge of the centre, Edwin Akabueze.
State of Nigerian prisons
Last year, a news media reported that unlike what obtains in other more organised climes where the prison is seen as a rehabilitation and correctional facility for those who have violated the rules and regulations of their society, in Nigeria it basically exists as a harsh place of detention. In other words, it is, as presently constituted, in no way conducive to the envisaged reformation of prisoners and their rehabilitation or preparation for reintegration into society.
It was a reality President Muhammadu Buhari readily acknowledged when he directed last October that urgent action be taken to decongest Nigerian prisons which he described as shockingly overcrowded and remain an embarrassment to the nation. Speaking when he hosted a delegation of the judicial arm of government led by the Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, Justice Walter Onnoghen at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, the President estimated the over crowding at up to 90 per cent, adding thus: “We need a new approach to prisons decongestion. Urgent new measures should be put in place to speedily deco.
Enugu prison built for 638 inmates, houses 1,800
In another development, the Enugu Maximum Security Prison, built in 1915 for 638 inmates, now houses 1,800 inmates, the Comptroller, Alloy Uchenwa, has said.
Mr. Uchenwa stated this when Enugu State Chief Judge, Innocent Umezulike, visited the prison on a decongestion mission on Monday.
“Due to this problem, the underage inmates are kept with much older and hardened criminals,” Mr. Uchenwa added.
He said the chief judge’s mission would contribute to decongesting the three prisons in Enugu, Oji-River and Nsukka.
The controller called on government, Non Governmental Organisations and well-meaning Nigerians to re-activate the Institution for Juveniles at Hill-top, Ngwo.
Earlier, Mr. Umezuluike explained the annual exercise was aimed at ensuring that criminal cases were not over delayed and to release cases not qualified to be in court.
“Our mission is to ensure that those who have overstayed are released and we shall try our best to meet the demand,” he said.
He said similar exercise would be carried out in Nsukka and Oji-River prisons and urged lawyers to ensure that it was orderly, smooth and peaceful.
An inmate, Sunday Ezulue, who regained freedom, said he was convicted for killing his brother accidentally.
He expressed joy over his release after spending five years awaiting trial.
The dilapidation state of the Nigeria prisons demonstrates a condition that cannot guarantee the reformatory process of the inmates.
Panel on prison decongestion
The Federal Government, last year, said it has constituted a committee to develop a strategy for the deployment of technology for the decongestion of prisons in Nigeria and the implementation of Virtual Automated Case Management System.
The government said the committee, which will be chaired by the Chief Judge of the Federal Capital Territory, Justice Ishaq Bello, would aid the systematic decongestion of all the prisons in the country, as well as periodically analyze the number of detainees.
A statement signed by media aide to Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Salihu Isah, further disclosed that mandate of the committee included to advise the government on periodic visits to prisons for effective monitoring of the programme. Other mandates include, “Liaise with relevant government agencies on the progress of prison decongestion programme. Organise a national summit on prison reform and decongestion in Nigeria. “Conduct the audit of criminal cases pending in courts to enable the determination of the reasons for the delay.
Undertake a legal audit of prison facilities in Nigeria with a view to identifying persons who should not be in prison. “Carry out other duties as may be assigned to it by the Honourable Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice.” Isah stated that the committee would oversee the implementation of the Federal Executive Council’s directives to fast track decongestion of prisons.
He said: “This renewed efforts to put prisons across the nation under proper perspective is geared to mark a paradigm shift from previous attempts towards prison decongestion in the country.” “Therefore, the Federal Ministry of Justice intends to realign the program to pay greater emphasis on true reforms of the prison and shifting of emphasis from retaining the services of external solicitors for awaiting trial inmates only to the Reformation, Rehabilitation and Reintegration (RRR) of the inmates. “The stakeholders committee is also expected to come up with a roadmap for the prison decongestion program, providing a comprehensive user friendly approach for tackling the problems bedeviling the Nigerian prison system. “It will also provide an insight into the past and present efforts of the Federal Ministry of Justice and other stakeholder institutions towards repositioning Nigeria prisons system”, the statement added.
Besides Justice Bello, other members of the committee are Mr. Dayo Akpata, Solicitor General of the Federation and Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Justice (FMOJ), Comrade Salihu Othman Isah, Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to the Honourable Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Pius Oteh, Special Assistant to the President on Coordination and International Affairs, Mr. Sylvester Imhanobe, Special Assistant to the President on Research and Special Projects, Mr. Reuben Mathew Jego, Supreme Court of Nigeria, Lieutenant Colonel O.N. Adesuyi (Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) and Mr. Olawale Fapohunda of the Legal Resources Consortium.
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