Lagos - The Controller General of Prisons, Dr Peter Ekpendu, said his administration was devoted to eliminating the continual jail breaks in the country.
This follows the Nigerian Prisons Service (NPS) with the support of the Army and Police Force thwarting an attempted break in Calabar Prison in Cross River State.
Eight prisoners died, 17 were injured while four staff were also injured with one of them having serious wounds.
Ekpendu, his spokesperson said, stated that the mass escape bid would have resulted in a monumental security disaster as more than 500 out of the 638 awaiting trial prisoners at the time of the incident, are charged for capital offences such as armed robbery, murder and kidnapping among others.
“He further stated that while the Prisons Service is devoted to humane treatment and correction of the inmates, his administration is committed to putting a stop to the wave jail breaks in the country, hence such attempts would never be tolerated,” Enobore Francis, Public Relations Officer of the Nigerian Prisons Service, said from the agency’s headquarters in Abuja.
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It is reported trouble started last Saturday morning when two cells housing some awaiting trial prisoners where opened, as a normal routine, for the inmates to take their bath.
About four of them walked up to an escort staff to complain that they were tired of staying in the prison awaiting justice and wanted to be taken to court.
The staff on duty appealed to them to exercise patience for courts to resume seating as they were currently on strike but this fell on deaf ears.
It is said other prisoners soon joined in the agitation to be taken to court and in a spontaneous reaction, pounced on the staff, advanced through the Chief Warders office, destroying all the adjoining doors before gaining access to the gate lodge.
They eventually broke into the armoury situated in the gate lodge and collected three riffles, went to the yard and started firing sporadically.
Warning shots fired by armed men on guard duty outside the perimeter fence did not deter them. The prisoners rather went to the rear of the perimeter fence and fired several shots at the wall to weaken the blocks.
Francis said thereafter they used a concrete slab to hit open the weakened wall, making large hole through which they jumped out still firing at anything in sight.
They were however engaged in a gun battle with the Armed Squad personnel assisted by the Army and Police.
“No prisoner escaped and all the riffles were recovered. The situation is now fully under control and normalcy has since returned to the yard,” Francis said.
- CAJ News