The Nigeria Correctional Service (NCS) lied when it claimed that the inmates killed during a riot at the Kaduna prison were “condemned inmates and not those awaiting trial,” findings by PREMIUM TIMES have shown.
The NCS had earlier claimed that no inmate was killed. It was forced to admit the killings after a PREMIUM TIMES report naming those killed.
Rather than provide details of the dead inmates, a statement on Saturday evening signed by the controller of the Kaduna correctional centre, Sanusi Danmusa, said those who died from injuries sustained during the incident were “condemned inmates and not those awaiting trial.”
That claim has now been found to be false.
Profile of dead, wounded inmates
PREMIUM TIMES has obtained the profile of some of the deceased and critically injured inmates including what they were being tried for and the courts they were being tried at.
According to reliable sources within the Kaduna centre and the NCS but who do not want to be named for fear of victimisation, the slain victims include 25-year-old Hammed Abdullahi, who was awaiting trial for a murder case at the Kaduna State High Court 5. He reportedly died on the spot when shot by an unknown security operative during the crisis.
Also, 24-year-old Lucky Ujokama, who was reportedly awaiting trial for a rape case at Barnawa Magistrate Court 17, Kaduna, and Yahu Salisu, who was appearing before Magistrate Court 21 on Ibrahim Taiwo Road, Kaduna, for a yet to be confirmed case, died on Wednesday from gunshots sustained in their buttocks.
Another deceased inmate, 37-year-old Ibrahim Abubakar, an awaiting trial inmate for armed robbery and popularly called “Baba Lolo,” had been appearing at Court 3 of the Kaduna State High Court before Justice Kurada.
Further investigations have also revealed that two condemned convicts, Ogume Osarome and Oluchukwu Oche, are currently in critical condition, and our sources are worried something untoward could happen to them as authorities allegedly intensify efforts to change the narrative.
Meanwhile, Wisdom Felix, whose case is being handled by the Kaduna State High Court 3, and who was allegedly beaten to coma, is yet to recover.
Also, Samuel Sunday, who was appearing before Justice Zakka of High Court 13, on Bida Road, is said to currently have a bullet stuck in him and requires surgery.
Plot to Manipulate Evidence
PREMIUM TIMES has also learnt from NCS sources that the management of the Kaduna Maximum Custodial Centre is currently making efforts to alter the centre’s records as part of strategies to justify its new narrative about the pandemonium that rocked the centre last week.
The protest by inmates, over the fear of the spread of coronavirus disease and the government’s plans to decongest the custodial centres, turned violent, which left not less than four inmates dead.
PREMIUM TIMES had earlier reported the centre’s denial of the fatalities recorded during the riot. It had insisted that no life was lost.
However, following this newspaper’s Saturday report on the death of five inmates and injuries sustained by 16 NCS officers during the crisis, the management made a volte-face, declaring that only four inmates died.
Thus, to justify its new position as against the PREMIUM TIMES’ exclusive reports, especially on the death of inmates who were awaiting trial, the centre’s management is moving to obtain fresh statements from the provosts of various cells, sources at the NCS told this newspaper.
These sources also confirmed that some innocent inmates are now “being threatened to write letters of apology.”
According to these sources, the management, which is very furious about PREMIUM TIMES’ report, has also retrieved prison warrants of some of the deceased inmates possibly intending to wipe out their records at the centre.
NCS denies allegation
Meanwhile, the Nigeria Custodial Service has denied the allegations, describing them as lies.
Speaking through its spokesman, Austin Njoku, the service said it is more concerned about the report of the ongoing investigations on the matter, and that rather than speculating, the public should patiently await the report.
He said; “these are lies that should be discouraged. Whoever is giving this kind of information is a liar. It is through that I am not in Kaduna but the headquarters monitor things perfectly. All I can tell you now is to await the report of the investigations.”
CSOs warn against manipulation
Meanwhile, the Prisoners’ Rights Advocacy Initiative (PRAI), has added its voice to other groups demanding for justice on the matter, urging thorough investigation into the matter and prosecution of whoever is found guilty.
The group’s executive director, Ahmed Adetola-Kazeem, who likened the development to the death of some inmates at Ikoyi custodial centre about five months ago, said failure to release a report of investigation conducted on the matter would not be tolerated.
In a statement issued on Sunday, Mr Adetola-Kazeem called for the investigation of the murder of the inmates through an independent inquest, dismissal of all officers found culpable and their trial for murder, and adequate compensation of the deceased families.
The statement reads in part: “I had predicted in a series of interviews I have granted since the outbreak of COVID-19 that if the government does not do massive decongestion of the custodial centres, there is bound to be resistance from the inmates due to fear of being infected by the virus. This is the case in many Prisons across the world.”
He demanded an apology from the NCS for saying those who died were condemned inmates. “Assuming they were, does the law provide that they should be killed in this manner?”
Similarly, Funke Adeoye of Hope behind Bars Africa said as long as a death sentence has not been carried out in accordance with the provision of the law, the death of an inmate while in the custody of the NCS due to negligence and not natural reasons is a violation of their right to life.
She demanded details of the inmates and that their families be notified, adding that NCS’ admission is a testament to what could happen in other custodial centres if the government fails to quickly decongest the custodial centres.
In a statement shared with PREMIUM TIMES, Ms Adeoye said; “Countries all over the world have found ways to release minor offenders to prevent an outbreak of the pandemic in prison. In Nigeria’s case, holding minor offenders is illegal according to Parts 44 and 45 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (2015) and Part 2 of the Nigerian Correctional Service Act (2019) which already makes provisions for the utilisation of non-custodial measures for petty/minor offences.”
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