A rights group, Campaign for Democracy in Ebonyi State has given the Controller-General of the Nigeria Prisons Service, Ja’afaru Ahmed, 48 hours to release the names of prison inmates killed by prison officials during the purported jailbreak at the Abakaliki prisons.
The group is accusing prison authorities of opening fire and killing inmates who protested poor living conditions, while claiming they were trying to escape.
While the Comptroller General of Prisons, Ja’afaru Ahmed, said six people were killed and 10 others injured in the attempted “jailbreak”, others have said the casualty is much higher.
The State Chairman of the Campaign for Democracy, Onu Ogbonnaya Onu, said in Abakaliki that families of the deceased and people of Ebonyi State need to know the identity of those killed.
Mr. Onu said since the news of the killing spread, family members and relations of prison inmates have been making frantic effort to know if their relations were among the dead.
He said rather than provide useful information, prison officials have been harassing and intimidating them.
Mr. Onu described the situation as sad and disheartening, adding that the lack of information from the authority had created tension in the state as people troop to the Federal Teaching Hospital Abakaliki mortuary to make inquiry if their loved ones were among those that were killed and deposited in the mortuary.
He said the organization would adopt all legal means to ensure that the families of the deceased get justice, adding that the intention of the prison authority in Abakaliki was to kill the inmates and not to injure them.
“Campaign for Democracy CD, Ebonyi State, condemn in its entity the killing of unarmed prison inmates in Abakaliki over an alleged jail-break. We understand that prison officials deliberately shot at the unarmed inmates of which the greater number of them are awaiting trial persons.
“We equally discovered that the prison officials’ action were perpetrated to cover some shady and unprofessional deals in the prison, else, why shoot them at life threatening parts of the body? Why not make use of rubber bullets?”.
“CD therefore calls on the Comptroller of Prisons to constitute a discreet investigative panel over this barbaric and hateful killing. CD also demands that the names of all the dead victims and particulars be made public within 48 hours or we will be left with no other option than to approach the court.
“In a developed world, we see police use tear gas, rubber bullets to disperse rioters or in a worst case scenario, shoot them in the leg but regrettably in Ebonyi situation, they shot and killed the inmates at close range. When you visit the Federal Teaching Hospital were most of them are currently receiving treatment, you would be shocked at the level of gunshot injuries the inmates sustained,” he said.
The group called on the Ebonyi State Governor, David Umahi, not to allow the killing of Ebonyi sons to be swept under the carpet as the killing may have made some persons widows and orphans.
He called on well-meaning Ebonyi people especially members of the State and National Assembly to speak out and condemn the unfortunate incident and ensure the perpetrators were fished out, dismissed and prosecuted to forestall a re-occurrence.