Proposes Inter-Security Agencies Task Force to Curb Jail Breaks

Paschal Emeka, Abuja

The House of Representatives has called on the Federal Government to establish what it described as a Threat Management and Repellant Inter-Security Agencies Task Force in Correctional Centres across the country.

In a motion during plenary, Hon. Ben Rollands Igbakpa noted that the incessant attacks on custodial facilities of the Nigerian Correctional Service to forcefully free convicts and awaiting trial inmates have become a most dangerous trend as it portends grave danger to the society which become an embarrassment to the country’s security architecture

He further noted that the recent attack on Kuje Prisons, which resulted in the escape of 600 inmates, including 64 sentenced Boko Haram terrorists, has again brought to the fore the worrisome state of the nation’s security architecture and the looming danger ahead.

The lawmaker informed that from September 2015 to July 2022, there have been about 15 jailbreaks across Nigeria, resulting in over 7,000 escapees, with over 5,000 recorded in 2020 alone; adding that the attack on the Kuje Custodial Centre was damning as about 300 armed men stormed the place with rocket-propelled grenades and improvised explosive devices and held sway for over two hours as they went cell by cell to free inmates, including many top Boko Haram commanders who were being held in the facility.

He also informed that due to their large number and superior firepower, the invaders overpowered the security personnel at the facility, resulting in the death of an officer of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) and four inmates.

Recognizing the fact that prison officials may not be trained to be infantry and confrontational, which makes it difficult for them to repel such attacks, hence the need to put a task force in place as well as upgrade prison facilities in terms of better walls, perimeter fences, and solid gates as well as installation of modern equipment to easily detect security breaches and curb further attacks.

He was concerned that despite being acclaimed as the most fortified correctional centre in the country, the assorted array of security forces guarding the medium-security prison in Kuje could not defend the facility against the terrorist attack.

He was also worried that the frequent and recurring jailbreaks across the country show the inefficiency of all those appointed into key security positions and the President’s unwillingness to sack them portrays him as tacitly allowing the situation to continue to fester.

According to him, the grave implication of the jailbreak is that the criminals have returned to society and their refusal to return to prison means that they will continue to perpetrate more atrocities, thus leading to further breakdown of security across the country.

Hon. Igbakpa noted that inter-agency cooperation is crucial to curbing the menace of prison breaks, especially in intelligence sharing and reinforcement, and more particularly for quick prosecution of detained suspects across the country’s correctional facilities, adding that that prison break constitutes a threat to national security and stringent actions must be taken to avoid further incidents.

The House resolved to urge the President to immediately set up a judicial panel of inquiry on prison attacks in the country and ensure that such assaults on the entire security apparatus of Nigeria do not recur and also urged the Nigerian Correctional Service liaise with the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL) and other relevant agencies to track and re-arrest.

They further urged the Comptroller General of the Nigerian Correctional Service to, as a matter of urgency, to forward a supplementary budget to the National Assembly for approval for the provision of CCTV across maximum and medium correctional centres in the country.

They also mandated the Committee on Interior to interface with the relevant federal government agencies to constitute a threat management and repellant inter-security agencies task force in all correctional centres across the country as well as undertake data capture of all inmates by enrolling them into the National Identity Number system and report back within three weeks for further legislative action.

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