Kogi prison attack: 73 inmates still on the run –Minister


 …Reads riot act to officials
No fewer than 73 inmates of the Koton-Karfe Prison, Kogi State, which was attacked by members of Islamist sect, Boko Haram, last week, are still at large.

 The Minister of Interior, Patrick Abba Moro, disclosed this while reading the riot act to prisons’ comptrollers and senior officials over incessant jailbreaks in the country.
 The minister, who was bitter over last Wednesday’s incident at Koton-Karfe , stated that prisons’ officials would, henceforth, be sanctioned over jailbreaks.

 Over 119 prisoners escaped when Boko Haram attacked the prison, freeing seven sect members. A guard was killed.
 At a meeting in Abuja yesterday, the minister charged officials to prepare to die when the needs arise, to secure the prisons, as failing to defend the facility poses grave

 consequences for the nation.
 “I think because of the sophistication of the activities of these
 people (Boko Haram), we have lost our guards. Whether in Bauchi, where armed guards had attacked our prisons, or in Koton-Karfe, where people that we ordinarily would characterize as hoodlums had attacked our prisons or in Port Harcourt, where, due to negligence and some form of conspiracy, some inmates have actually escaped, we owe it a responsibility to rise up to the challenge.
 “What has happened in Koton-Karfe recently has challenged all of us, and by now, I think you should know whether you are capable of securing our prisons or not.

 For some of you that I can see here that are a little old in the system, I don’t know whether you have experienced what we are experiencing today before in your lives. I do not also know whether you have the preparedness, the mental and physical preparedness and the skill to tackle the circumstances in which we find ourselves today. But let me say that you now know that you are having a very serious share in the security challenges that we find ourselves today. It means, therefore, that you must rise up to the occasion and not only discharge our mandate to secure our prisons and inmates but to be seen to do so by Nigerians.

 “I want to assume that all of you know why you joined the prisons service and you now know that the realities on ground is that you are not fulfilling that responsibility because if armed hoodlums can invade your prison and free the totality of your inmates, then, what that means is that you are not justifying the introduction of arms bearing in the service, because you will agree with me that like all other forces, you signed to serve and that the implication of signing to serve is that you are prepared to pay the supreme price,” the minister said.

 Moro was angry that the armed-guards on duty at Koton-Karfe displayed absolute negligence and disloyalty to the country by allowing hoodlums to overrun them and freed over 119 inmates without confrontation, saying that this did not show any justification for the introduction of arms in the service.

 While expressing disappointment at the service, the minister stated that during his visits to various prisons across the nation, it has been very unpalatable stories ranging from ‘neglect by prisons administrations of the very critical roles that the prisons play in ensuring internal security in the country, to the very poor conditions of our prisons, some of which, very ordinarily I must confess, is a result of some level of negligence and to some extent, the ineptitude of leadership of the prisons.’
 He condemned the huge number of awaiting trial inmates in the prisons, saying that the Nigeria Prisons Service (NPS) has not done enough to present the inmates before the justice system just as he condemned the dirty environment of prisons, which he said, was reprehensible.
 From UBONG UKPONG, Abuja
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