Enugu jailbreak: Nigeria Prisons “can’t ascertain number of fleeing inmates”

Six prisoners who escaped from a jail in Nsukka, Enugu State on Monday, have been recaptured, the Enugu State controller of the Nigeria Prisons Service, Isaiah Amali, has said.

Mr. Amali told PREMIUM TIMES that the incident occurred between 12 am and 3 am Monday morning, but refused to disclose the total number of prisoners involved in the jailbreak.

He made the disclosure during a visit to Nsukka prisons.

PREMIUM TIMES learnt that 15 inmates escaped.

“We have rearrested six escapees with the support of other security personnel. Many of others have been traced to their villages; we are already liaising with the local vigilantes in those areas with a view to re-arresting the fleeing escapees. I can assure you that we are on top of the situation,” he said.

On why he refused to state the number of prisoners involved in the jail break.

Mr. Amali said, “Investigations are ongoing. For the purpose of being very sure and exact in the figure, we cannot for now ascertain the number of prisoners that escaped. But we are making efforts to do that, which is what I have been asked to do.

“The security details on how the prisoners escaped is still being looked into, at the moment we cannot not think of carrying out roll calls of prisoner because there are security implications. There are checks and measures we will have to apply to tackle this, this is internal affairs that are not disclosed to the public,” he said.

On what the service would do if it is confirmed that its officials were involved in the jailbreak, Mr. Amali said the law will take its course.

“If we found out that any of our staff is involved or if any of our staff is found to have helped the prisoners in the act of getting away from the facility, the full wrath of the law would be enforced from the hierarchy of the service.

“The controller general will give further details on the number of inmates who are still on the run on the level of the service,” he said.

On whether the overpopulation of the prison was responsible for the jailbreak, Mr. said: “It is a common phenomenon that prisons in the country are over-populated, but this cannot be responsible for the current situation here.

“We are not responsible for the over-population of the prison other law enforcement agency does the arrest. Besides, there is a due process at which prisoners are brought here. We don’t arrest people, we only have them here for the purpose of their safe keeping.

“The jailbreak cannot be blamed on the over population of the prison.

“The prison was established about 100 years ago and a man of 100 years is old. The place is yearning for a new attention.

“The prisoners who are on the loose when found will be taken to court and a warrant of escape from custody will be prescribed on them,” he said.

Mr. Amali called on the public to collaborate with the service to identify the fleeing prisoners.

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