In 2014, former Minister of Interior, Comrade Abba Moro, ordered the immediate removal and suspension of the Niger state Controller of Prisons, Musa Maiyaki, and Officer-in-Charge-ACP Mohammed Bena, following the jailbreak at the Minna Medium Security Prisons.
Almost four years on, jailbreaks have remained a major challenge of the Nigerian Prisons Services.
KEHINDE OSASONA writes
One jailbreaks, too many Report has it that between 2009 and 2018, several cases of jailbreaks have been recorded resulting in the escapes of over 2,200 prisoners.
From Agodi prison in 2007, Damaturu prison 2012, it has been jailbreaks galore.
Blueprint recalls that the attack on the federal prison at Afao road, Ado Ekiti in the south-western city of Ekiti state in 2014 by 60 unknown gunmen, left one warder and 20 sniffer dogs dead, while about 341 prisoners who were largely awaiting trial escaped.
Similarly, ten inmates who attempted to escape were captured during a gunfire exchange between the policemen and the invaders.
After the dust settled, 67 inmates were rearrested.
One inmate, who claimed to have run away when he heard gunshots, returned to the prison to serve out his short sentence.
As a way of dousing tension, the then comptroller general of the Nigerian Prisons Service, Kehinde Fadipe, refuted an earlier claims by some people that the unknown gunmen were members of the dreaded Boko Haram sects.
Not long after, in less than two months to be precise, two inmates were killed during an attempted jailbreak at Kirikiri Medium Prison, in Lagos, but the then minister of interior, denied that there was any jailbreak attempt, saying the inmates only protested against unfavourable conditions.
In a related scenario, 144 out of the 145 inmates reportedly escaped at the Koton-Karfi Prison in Kogi state after an invasion by gunmen in November 2.
According to the state controller of Prisons, Adam Omale, 9 of them were later arrested.
In 2017, Akwa Ibom state had its own taste of the bitter pills when some prisoners attacked the kitchen staff that were on duty at Ikot Ekpene Prison in Akwa-Ibom.
In a commando-like manner, the prisoners allegedly seized an axe from fellow inmate attached to the kitchen after inflicting a deep cut on the inmates’ head in the process, and immediately made for the rear entrance to the prison.
They broke the door with the axe and engaged the staff that chased after them in battle.
While the scuffle lasted, four of them that sustained gunshots lost their lives while seven were recaptured.
Immediately, an intensive search was conducted in order to arrest the about forty others who are still at large.
In 2016, there were at least three attempted jailbreaks in Nigeria at the Nsukka, and Abakaliki prisons respectively.
But the one in Abakiliki was not successful as prison officials, supported by policemen and soldiers, managed to ensure none of the prisoners escaped.
Another reported jailbreak attempt at the Kuje prison in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), was later refuted by the prison authority who claimed that it was just a riotous situation that was triggered by the inmates.
About 23 prison officials were later sacked by the federal government for alleged complicity in some of the jailbreaks.
Almost three years after the 2014 incident, the Minna Medium Security Prison at Tunga area of the Metropolis, came under attack again last week by armed persons who gained access to the prison yard after exchange of fire with prison officials.
One prison official was killed in the incident.
The Niger State Command of the Nigeria Prisons Service, had in a statement through its spokesman, DSP Rabiu Shuaibu, made the confirmation.
He went further to confirm the death of an officer and a motorcyclist in the ensuing confusion that trailed the jailbreak.
He said: “On Sunday, June 3, 2018, at 8:00p.m., there was a jailbreak at Minna Medium Security Prison located at Tunga area of Minna metropolis.
“The unfortunate incident was perpetrated by armed criminals who attacked the prison and gained access after exchange of gunfire with armed prison men.
“The incident led to the death of a prison officer and a motorcyclist, who conveyed a prison officer on night duty,” Shuaibu clarified.
Explaining further, he confirmed that normalcy had returned in and around the prison, assuring that security agencies were on top of the situation and working together to ensure re-capture of fleeing inmates.
“We will like to urge all law-abiding citizens to support security agencies in maintaining law and order, as security is a collective responsibility,” he said.
Minister, Prison Comptroller confounds Meanwhile, the Minister of Interior, Abdulrahman Dambazau, was quoted as admitting that “There are security gaps to be addressed in the prisons such as manpower, decongestion.” He said the federal government is building 3000 capacity prison in each geo-political zone and recruiting 6000 personnel, admitting that there were security lapses at Minna Prison.
Dambazau made the statement after an on-the-spot assessment of the prison hours after.
Also speaking, the Comptroller General of Prison, Jaafaru Ahmed, confirmed that an investigative panel has been set up to ascertain the immediate and remote causes of the jailbreak.
In the same vein, a panel has been set up by the Comptroller of Prisons to investigate circumstances surrounding the attack on the Minna Medium Security Prison.
Headed by an Assistant Comptroller General of Prison, Mohammed Garba, the panel has three other members who are in the rank of Comptroller of Prison, while a Principal Officer of the Nigeria Prison is said to be the Secretary.
Expert speaks Proffering solution to the menace, a security expert, Col.
Francis Okosun (rtd) advocates that Prisons in Nigeria should be relocated and new ones built.
According to him, most of the prisons are within the city centre and it has started having its attendant consequences.
He specifically mentioned the Yola Prison’s location.
He said: “In essence, we have to rebuild and re-design our prison yards.
Training, equipments and poor welfare of officials has to be looked into.” Lamenting further, Okosun said; “the average prison officer is not well-catered for.
Not only that, the prison yards lack monitoring devices, sophisticated weapons and alarm system.
The Second World War vintage they carry can’t cope with such invasion and could easily make some of their walls to be breached.” Is prisons reform the way out? Today, virtually all the prisons in Nigeria are bustling with inmates with growing population of convicted persons complicating problems at hand on a daily basis.
The questions remains; will de-population exercise solve scourge jailbreaks and congestion plaguing our various prisons? Against the backdrop of the recent Minna jailbreak, stakeholders are of the views that giving the paucity of funds which is working against proffered solution, government, according to them, can change the face of prison administration in Nigeria by engaging in a Public Private Partnership arrangement as obtained in countries like USA, UK, Australia, Germany and Japan.
They further hinged their argument on how organizations and private sectors had built and operated prisons across the globe on leasehold arrangement over the years, ranging from 20-30 years.