Revealed: How six prisoners died in Abakaliki attempted Jailbreak, by CGP
The Controller-General of Prisons, Ja’afaru Ahmed has confirmed that no prisoner escaped during the attempted jailbreak in the early hours of Thursday 18th August, 2016. He made this disclosure while addressing the press during a courtesy visit to the Governor of Ebonyi State, David Umahi on Friday 19th August, 2016.
The Controller General, who had earlier inspected Abakaliki prison stated that trouble started when prison officials were about to carry out routine cell-search in the morning but the inmates in a particular cell resisted the exercise. They suddenly became riotous, broke other cells and released the inmates. They eventually broke into the workshop to arm themselves with dangerous weapons and severely attacked some staff trapped in the yard while others made for the main gate and pulled it down. Meanwhile, the prisons Armed Squad and men from other security agencies on guard outside the perimeter fence were firing warning shots to deter the rampaging inmates but a number of them rushed out to escape. The bold attempt was resisted by the combined team of armed personnel who presented what would have turned into a catastrophic security situation had the inmates succeeded in escaping.
Regrettably at the end of the fracas, six prisoners died and 10 others were injured. Six prison officers were severely injured. However, both staff and inmates are responding to treatment with some already discharged from the hospital.
The Controller General has set up a 3-man panel to carry out a detailed investigation into the incident in order to establish both the immediate and remote causes of the riot. He commended the officers and men of Abakaliki Prisons for successfully foiling the attempted jailbreak and also thanked officers of other security agencies that promptly responded in resisting the jailbreak noting that such synergy was essential in maintaining peace and good order in the society. He also thanked the Governor for his assistance and timely visit to the prison.
Routine cell-search is a tradition in the prison usually carried out as a proactive security measure to ensure that prisoners do not keep dangerous items that could aid escape or compromise the safety of their fellow prisoners or staff. It is the near abandonment of this practice that has largely been responsible for the recent escape of prisoners in Kuje, Koton Karfe and Nsukka prisons.
The CGP promised to continue to support field officers in the onerous task of securing prisoners in safe and humane. He also assures that reformation and rehabilitation of inmates will be pursued with the required vigour in order to stem the vicious circle of repeat offences among ex-convicts.
Abakaliki prison was built in 1946 with an installed capacity of 387 inmates but as at Thursday 18th August 2016, the prison had a population of 920 prisoners out of which 811 are awaiting trial Prisoners leaving just 109 as convicted inmates. The ring leader had in fact, spent about 9 years awaiting trial.