The Nigerian Comptroller-General of Prisons, Mr. Aminu Suley, has blamed the Nigerian Judiciary for creating the unsavoury conditions that encouraged terrorists to invade Kogi Prisons early this month and set free 145 inmates.
Speaking during a visit to Kogi Prison by Governor Idris Wada and his deputy Yomi Awoniyi, Suley condemned the judiciary for the delay in concluding cases of awaiting trial inmates and urged the executive to assist the judiciary to hasten up the trial process.
He said: “Some of these prisoners are not supposed to be here in the first instance. It is saddening that out of the 145 inmates, only 26 of them are convicted. The remaining 119 are awaiting trials.”
The Comptroller-General affirmed that the attack was the handiwork of terrorists, who forcefully entered the prison, adding that the attack was possible because the prison was overcrowded.
Suley was, however, optimistic that some of the inmates would return on their own, either to the Koton-Karfe prisons or any other prisons in the country, to avoid being declared wanted.
In his response, Governor Wada decried the attack of the terrorists and also frowned at the condition of the prison, which he described as an apology.
The governor said: “I must say that the condition of the prison is absolutely not conducive. Though a criminal must be made to face the consequence of his sins, but not in this manner.
“I will, therefore, purchase some mattresses and other bedding and send to the prison. We will also renovate this place as whatever happened to this place has effect on the state.”
Wada, who also promised to use his prerogative of power to release some of the inmates, also charged the Chief Judge of the state to do same as empowered by law.
Wada also said he convened an emergency security meeting by 8a.m., yesterday, to look into the issue but urged the citizenry of the state to go on with their lawful business, assuring them of their safety and security.
Wada later visited the site of the new prison building in the same town and urged the Federal Government to expedite action towards the quick completion of the prison.
While the visit by the governor was ongoing, the Director of the Department of State Services in the state, Mike Fubara, vented his anger on journalists, harassing them to hand over their working tools.
The DSS Director snatched some of the journalists’ camera, phones and other working tools, saying it was against the law to take picture of prisons.
He said: “There is nowhere in the world that pictures are taken of prisons. Even in USA, what you see is only stage-managed building. We cannot allow you to take any picture.
“If I see any picture in your story tomorrow, you and your paper will be in serious trouble”, he threatened.
The attack on the prison was the second in two years as the facility was attacked in 2012 and 114 prisoners set free.
The Koton-Karfe Prison was built in 1918, renovated in 1938 and is supposed to accommodate 50 inmates.
The terrorists, suspected to be members of Boko Haram sect, were said to have arrived the prison around 9p.m., in four Hilux vehicles, raided the prison for more than two hours unchallenged, freed the inmates and vandalized the record office.
The hoodlums, who first overpowered the security personnel at the gate, broke into the prison through the window and vandalized the administrative office.
The Koton-Karfe Comptroller, Omale Ilemona, reporting how the break-in occurred, said out of the 145 prisoners set free by the terrorist group,12 had freely returned, while one was killed.
He said: “Around 9:30p.m., I received a call that the prison is under attack. I called the governor and securities operatives.
“But before help could come from sister agencies, the gunmen had overpowered us, freed all the inmates and escaped.”