Jail Breaks: The Festering Sore Of Nigerian Prisons | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Jail Breaks: The Festering Sore Of Nigerian Prisons

jail breaks
Posted: Sep 3, 2016 at 9:12 pm   /   by   /   comments (0)

Recently, there have been several jail breaks in the nation’s prisons. It is no longer news that the condition of the nation’s prisons is nothing to write home about. There is a lot of congestion even as a large number of those on awaiting trial languish in prison detention under condition that may be regarded as inhuman.

Also, in the nation’s prisons, different kinds of convicts are lumped together instead of being separated. Thus hardened prisoners are kept with those who committed minor offences.

With the stories of jail breaks across the nation in recent time, observers have been wondering what are responsible for these developments, leading to renewed calls for prison reforms.

Prison Reforms Overdue – Olarinoye
Comrade Gbenga Olarinoye, a social critic and public commentator, while reacting to to the reform of the prison, said the reform was long overdue.

He said that the call for prison reform did not just start today as it has been on for a very long time, adding that with the frequent jail breaks in some parts of the country, the time has come for the government to take the bull by the horn.

Olarinoye maintained that statistics have shown that prisons that witnessed jail break in recent time are those which 75 per cent of inmates are awaiting trial. He blamed the police for the problem, saying that the police should be blamed because they have the power to arrest, but they fail to prosecute the suspects on time.

“We have suspects spending up till 20 years in prison awaiting trial even with the condition in various prisons in the country that is de-humanising. Only on few occasions do you find the police prosecuting any suspects after 24 hours.

“Some others are remanded in prison just on trivial offences like stealing which normally may attract about three months imprisonment.”

Olarinoye also called on the Chief Judges to be visiting the prisons from time to time to reduce the number of suspects awaiting trial in the cells.

He called on the federal government to set up a committee to look into the issue or cases of inmates awaiting trial, especially those having criminal matters. The committee should visit prisons and release those who are erroneously arrested and put in prison.

Olarinoye declared that in most cases, instead of the suspects becoming remorse for their action, the situation in the prison hardens them because of their long stay in prisons.

Security Expert Explains Causes Of Jail Breaks
Mike Ejiofor, an Abuja-based security consultant has identified lack of motivation of officials of the Nigerian Prison Services (NPS), the slow wheel of justice in trying those on awaiting trial, the pressure on the existing infrastructural facilities in the prisons, the notion that if it can happen in such prisons with high security network, why can’t it happen here as well as massive corruption within the rank and file of the NPS as causes of jail breaks.

Ejiofor insisted that because NPS officials are not as motivated as other paramilitary organisations, they have become lackadaisical in their approach to their responsibilities, adding that the same prevails wherever workers do not enjoy good welfare.

He maintained that motivation is an important way of bringing the best out of any individual, adding that where workers is not properly motivated, the tendency for the job to suffer cannot be ruled out. He said that people who engage in special duties need to be motivated to ensure that they do not engage in corrupt practices.

According to him, most of the recent jail breaks recorded across the country follow the same trait. These include digging holes on prison walls. He revealed that in one such jail break as many as 20 holes or more were discovered on the walls. He wondered why and how such number of holes could be dug in a prison without the warders and officials of such prison knowing anything about it.

To him, this also leads to corruption as some of the prison officials must have compromised their offices and turned the other eye as the inmates make preparations to break for safety. He insisted that the NPS must make rooms for improvement on the welfare of the officials of the service and ensure that these officials are happy doing their job, adding that once this is done, the incessant jail breaks would become a thing of the past.

Continuing, he described the existing infrastructure in the prisons across the length and breadth of Nigeria as very embarrassing and a keg of gun powder waiting to explode and which the explosion had just commence. He maintained that there were presently in Nigeria an estimated 67,000 inmates housed in the various prisons across the country.

“But I want to tell you that over 80 percent of them as on the awaiting trial list, saying that this figure had caused the infrastructure to be over stretched in the last couple of years, making the inmates to decide to take their lives into their hands,” Ejiofor said.

He added that there is not one prison in the country that has not suffered in terms of provision of decent infrastructure, stressing that the time has come for the government to begin the expansion of the prisons across the country to make room for relocation of inmates.

Ejiofor lauded the war on corruption currently being fought by the present administration, but insisted that going by the number of suspects that may be arrested and thrown behind bars, there is the urgent need to provide additional facilities so as not to further over stretch  what is available now which is nothing to write home about.

He also advised security agencies to do proper screening of suspects and a sorting centre, where suspects can be quickly attended to, rather than waiting for ugly occurrences which embarrass the country.

Ejiofor also advised that suspects awaiting trial should have their cases speedily attended to so as to reduce the number of inmates in the various prisons.