By: Muazu Elazeh, Mohammed Ismail, David Akinadewo
The federal government has overhauled security system in Nigerian prisons to curb recurring incidence of jail breaks and attacks on the facilities by gunmen suspected to be insurgents.
Unlike the past where only prison officials kept vigil in and around the prisons, the government has set joint military and police task forces to shield the prisons from invasion by gunmen and jailbreaks by inmates and their collaborators outside the prison.
At the two prisons in Yola and Jimeta, Adamawa State, LEADERSHIP Sunday observed water-tight security around the formations. It was gathered that the measure was informed by the incessant attacks on prisons formations in some states in the North East geo-political zones of the country.
In the serial attacks on the prison formations in the state, many people including prison officials and inmates have been killed while several others have escaped.
LEADERSHIP Sunday also learnt that the new arrangement is aimed at strengthening the emergency rule imposed on the state by the federal government.
The prison authorities have also adopted other measures including blocking of roads that lead to prison formations with the assistance of military and police personnel.
During a visit to the area, men of the task force were seen to have blocked the road that connects the Jimeta Prison. This affected traffic flow from the two ends of the town.
Another joint patrol teamwas seen manning the YolaPrison although it did not bar motorists from plying the road due to what an insider source said was the close proximity of the prison formation to the palace of the Lamido Adamawa.
In Ondo State, the June 30, 2013 jail break at the Olokuta Minimum Security Prisons in Akure, has also forced the government to beef up security in the facility.
About 175 inmates escaped from the prison located on the Ondo/AkureRoad in in the state capital.It was learned that men of the Nigeria Police, the Nigerian Army, the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) and other security agencies have moved to secure the prison.
The Nigerian Army, 32 Artillery, Owena Barracks, Akure had also deployed men to the premises immediately after the incident to support armed policemen who were drafted to the place.
Since the incident, visitors to the prison have been made to pass through rigorous screening before being allowed access to their relatives who are inmates of the prison.
Two road blocks have also been mounted on the Ondo-AkureRoad by the Nigerian Army. One is at the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) before the prison and the other at Olokuta village after the prison.
The state command police public relations officer (PRO), Mr WoleOgodo,confirmed that various steps have been taken to secure the prison
He said that, “What I can say now is that necessary security mechanism has been put in place which is not for public consumption”.
In Katsina State, prison warden still man the 10 prisons with capacity for about 1,543 inmates, which however host more than 2,000 inmates.
In spite of all the challenges, it is observed that the prisons in the state has not witnessed incidence of jail breaks. This may not be unconnected with the tightened security within and around the prisons.
In all the formations, heavy presence of prison wardens was noticedwiththe entrances and exit routes barricaded.
A top officer of the state prisons command who sought anonymity attributed the frequent cases of jail breaks and attacks to the worsening insecurity situation, but quickly added that the state has not experience any jail break in recent time.
Article Source- leadership