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Jailbreaks: Investigation reveals 1,133 fugitives on the loose.

Over 1,133 prison inmates who escaped from various prisons in the past seven years are still on the loose, investigations by our correspondent have revealed.

Checks showed that the Nigerian Prisons Service and other security agencies had been unable to track down and arrest the fleeing inmates, many of whom were members of the Boko Haram insurgent group who escaped during jailbreaks between 2010 and 2017.

Some of the prisons that have recorded jailbreaks include facilities in Maiduguri, Borno State; Kano, Kano State; Bauchi, Bauchi State; Akure, Ondo State; Enugu, Enugu State; Sagamu, Ogun State; Koton Karfe, Kogi State; Oko, Edo State; and Abuja.

Findings by Saturday PUNCH indicated that the 36 inmates who broke out of the Ikot Ekpene Prison in Akwa-Ibom State on December 27, 2017, had not been rearrested.

No fewer than four persons died during the attack on kitchen workers by the inmates while seven others were captured during the jailbreak.

On December 6, 2016, about 275 prisoners escaped from the Minna Medium Security Prison in Niger State, out of which 115 were reportedly rearrested, leaving about 160 unaccounted for.

A similar incident occurred at the Federal Prison, Ado-Ekiti, Ekiti State on November 30, 2014, when 341 prisoners escaped from the facility, leaving a warder and some sniffer dogs dead.

Sixty-seven awaiting trial inmates were rearrested after the attack while 274 inmates reportedly escaped. The prison service had yet to give any update on the missing inmates.

On August 9, 2016, no fewer than 15 inmates at the Federal Prisons, Nsukka, Enugu State, broke out of their cells, but only six were reported to have been rearrested by the Nigerian Prisons Service while nine were still at large.

Ten days after, there was an attempted jailbreak in Abakaliki Federal Prison, Ebonyi State, where officials claimed six inmates attempting to escape were killed and several others injured.

The same incident was recorded at Koton Karfe Prison, Kogi State on July 30, 2016, when 10 pre-trial detainees and three convicts escaped from the facility by simply scaling the fence. Five of them were reportedly rearrested later, while the remaining eight inmates were believed to be on the loose.

The all-male prison facility, which was inaugurated in 2014, has the capacity to accommodate 180 inmates, but it was accommodating about 263 inmates at the time of the jailbreak, it was gathered.

In Abuja, two prison inmates, Maxwell Ojukwu from Delta State and Solomon Amodu from Kogi State, awaiting trial for culpable homicide, escaped from the Kuje Medium Prison on June 25, 2016. The fugitives are still at large.

The incessant jailbreaks reached a critical point in November, 2014, when armed hoodlums invaded Koton Karfe Prisons, Kogi State, and freed about 145 inmates.

Twelve inmates returned to the prison to serve out their short sentences and about 45 others were rearrested, leaving 88 unaccounted for.

In June, 2012, the Jimeta Prison at Damaturu was attacked by suspected insurgents who allegedly freed 40 inmates, some of whom were believed to be Boko Haram members. The number of inmates rearrested could not be ascertained as nothing had been heard from the prison authorities about the incident since then.

About 721 suspected Boko Haram members also escaped from the Bauchi Prisons on September 7, 2010, but less than 100 of them were said to have been recaptured by the security forces.

Embarrassed by the series of jailbreaks, the Federal Government in August, 2016, dismissed 23 prisons officers for alleged complicity in jailbreaks at Kuje Medium Security Prisons, Abuja and Koton-Karfe Prison, Kogi.

Also, 11 other prison officers were suspended.

The NPS spokesman, Francis Enobore, explained that many of the escaped inmates had been rearrested by the prison services in collaboration with the police and the Department of State Services.

He stated that the service was partnering various civil groups and associations to gather information that could assist in tracking down the escaped inmates.

“I cannot go into the details of the partnership for security reasons, but the fact is that we have rearrested many of the escaped inmates, and we are still collaborating with our sister security agencies to track and arrest the others,” Enobore explained.

He could not, however, provide the official data of inmates on the loose, despite repeated requests spanning several weeks.

PUNCH

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