The Minister of Interior, Abdulrahman Dambazau, has attributed the recent spate of jailbreaks in the country to negligence on the part of top officers of the Nigwria Prisons Service (NPS).
Dambazau made this observation while addressing senior officers of the NPS, who were meeting to discuss and proffer solutions to the issue of frequent jail breaks in the country in recent times, on Tuesday.
In less than a month, there have been jailbreaks at the Kuje Medium and Koton-Karfe prisons in Abuja and Kogi respectively. While two inmates standing trial for culpable homicide escaped from Kuje by simply scaling the perimeter fence and are still at large, five of the 13 inmates that escaped from the Koton-Karfe prison, have been re-captured.
While acknowledging that there were other lapses that made the optimum operation of prisons service in Nigeria a herculean task, the minister stated that not observing routine duties by personnel was the cause of most jail breaks.
“Quite a number of prisons have structural problems, even the most recent ones are not constructed to the standard”, he said. “I’m aware that a number of them are very old. I have visited some of them and some are as old as a century”.
“I’m also aware that the number of inmates have increased while the facilities have not been expanded”, Dambazau added.
He however, indicted the top officers for not doing what is required to ensure the security of the prisons “like patrolling the prisons, manning the towers, keeping records, knowing how many prisoners you have by names not by numbers”, describing the development as a function of failed leadership.
“Why will somebody who is to be on duty, will be absent and nobody will say anything about it?” Dambazau, a retired General of the Nigerian Army queried. “Someone, who suppose to (sic) patrol will not patrol and nothing is done about it, why is it that someone who suppose to (sic) man towers will not man it and nothing will happen?”
He insisted that the administration will no longer tolerate all these shortcomings, warning that “anybody who has the responsibility of looking after a prison must hold that responsibility squarely because if anything happens, you will be held responsible”.
Speaking earlier, the Controller General of NPS, Ja’afaru Ahmed, lamented that the administrations in the prisons all over the country were in near collapse, saying staff were not taking security matters seriously in their respective prisons.
Ahmed also decried the high rate of trafficking in the prisons, which he noted, is resulting in prisoners escaping under questionable circumstances.
“There are cases where staff decides to absent themselves from duty with reckless abandon and necessary supervision is not carried out”, he said. “My administration is poised to reduce every form of indiscipline and we will continue to deal with truancy and other compromising attitudes capable of giving a bad image to the Nigeria Prisons Service”.