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‘Why jailbreak is rising in Nigeria’

Posted by Akin Oyedele, Benin on 2005/06/22 | Views: 272 |

‘Why jailbreak is rising in Nigeria’


The alarming rate of jailbreak in the country has been attributed to the inhuman and degrading conditions under which prison inmates are being kept.

The alarming rate of jailbreak in the country has been attributed to the inhuman and degrading conditions under which prison inmates are being kept.

The Chairman, Committee on Human Rights of the Benin branch of the Nigerian Bar Association, Dr. Osagie Obayuwana, stated this on Wednesday in an interview with our correspondent.

He observed that most of the inmates were suspects awaiting trial.

Until the Federal Government undertook a complete overhaul of the system, he expressed the fear that the last might not have been heard of such incidents.

His comments came against the backdrop of recent incidents of jailbreak in Port Harcourt, Rivers State and Ogwashi-Uku, Delta State, prisons.

No fewer than 200 inmates escaped, while five were shot dead in the incidents which occurred last Friday.

Speaking in a separate interview with our correspondent, a retired Assistant Commissioner of Police, who craved anonymity, however disagreed with Obayuwana.

He fingered the prison authorities for dereliction of duties.

Before such incidents could happen, he argued that there must have been ominous signs to alert the authorities that danger was lurking, following which they ought to have taken preemptive measures to nip it in the bud.

However, Obayuwana adduced overcrowding, poor feeding arrangement and virtually non-existent health care facilities in the prisons as factors responsible for jailbreak.

In the Ogwashi-Uku incident, the reported attempt to take an inmate, Chief Newton Agbodufu, to court had allegedly sparked off the rioting.

The suspect was identified as a benefactor to other inmates who had allegedly relied on him for regular largesse to cushion the effects of the harsh condition under which they were being kept.

In Port Harcourt, suspected militants said to be armed with deadly weapons were said to have invaded the prison in the wee hours of the night to free three of their comrades-in-arms said to be awaiting trial on murder charges.

Obayuwana said the gradual metamorphosis of the country’s prisons from rehabilitation centres to nests, where inmates were crammed into cells made them to be idle and vicious.

He emphasized that jailbreak was fast becoming a global phenomenon, given the Brazil experience and the hostage taking around the world perpetrated by acolytes of suspected gangsters in a desperate bid to free their detained comrades.

Out of frustration, he said some inmates would be ready to risk their lives to breathe the air of freedom, since the law presumed an accused innocent until otherwise proven.

Obayuwana urged the Federal Government to boost the morale of prison warders and improve the condition of prisons to avert re-currence of jailbreak.

The Punch, Thursday June 23, 2005

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Fay(Katy, Texas, US)says...

Actually translates to bravehearted.