By Chijioke Kingsley
Abuja (Sundiata Post) – The series of jailbreaks in Nigeria has become too many, cursing unnecessary embarrassment to the country and painting a bleak image to the outside world.
The country is currently facing a poor security situation with incessant killings, kidnapping, terrorism and banditry in addition with jailbreak making it unsafe for anyone to think of investing or have any meaningful business plan for the country.
A security expert Amb. Golkuna Gotom, who spoke with our correspondent blamed the recurring prison breaks on an infrastructural deficit, overcrowding of cells, the prolonged trial of suspects, understaffing, poor remuneration and equipping of staff, inadequate technology, bribery and corruption, and other institutional challenges bedeviling the correctional centres across the country.
Gotom who is a Candidate for the Plateau State Central Senatorial seat in the 2023 general elections, measures must be taken to forestall future occurrence of jailbreak in the country.
He recommended that steps must be taken to build a 3000 capacity custodian center across the six geopolitical zones in the country, saying that if this is done, it will not only make the community and the society safe, but will also make the community management of security in the society easy.
Gotom stressed the lack of technology in the Nigerian Prisons facility, adding that if closed-circuit television (CCTV) and other gadgets are installed in every custodian centers across the country, it will serve as a buffer and make policing of the center easier.
He pointed to other deficiencies lacking in the Nigerian Prisons as understaffed, calling for massive recruitment across the service.
“The Nigerian Prisons have over 70,000 inmates, and the staff are far below the number of inmates, where is it done across the world?
“Funding is another major issue, with the 244 prisons across the nation government is not doing enough to fund the Correctional centers leading to dilapidated structures with Prison cells overcrowded and a shortage of prison vans to convey inmates to court for trial. Staff and prison officials are also poorly paid”.
He continued: “Allowances as contained in the Public Service Rules are not paid to staff. Promotion is a privilege and not a right. Arrears are not paid to promoted staff as at when due. Whenever they pay this entitlement, many do not get theirs while the few that get are grossly underpaid. The few available outdated staff quarters do not accommodate 10% of the available staff.
“For years, it has been mere talk without action on changing the service uniform. This has lingered and is fast becoming a foregone project. The much touted harmonisation of ranks and salaries to match with those of other security agencies particularly the police is mere political statement. The officers and men of this service are passing through their own hell on earth.
“On custodial centres congestion and its consequences, the judiciary is a major contributor to this cankerworm. It is very easy for our learned fellows to speak in public fora on the inadequacies of the correctional service but keep mute on their roles in the long list of the awaiting trial inmates in these custodial centres. Over 80 percent of the inmates in custodial centres across the federation are awaiting trial. Many of these inmates do not know their adjournment dates due largely to the everyday absence of their magistrates and judges without prior notice to the officers of the correctional service or their lawyers. The judiciary does not have a database of all the suspects standing trials in their respective courts. This could have been used to prepare reproduction warrants for all the inmates standing trial in their courts, who for one reason or the other had missed their adjournment dates to appear in their respective courts on later dates”, he said.
Gotom however described as worrisome the absence of the Controller General in attending Security Council meetings of the Service Chiefs with the President.
He wondered why the Controller General is excluded from such an important meeting, stressing that if the Controller is included, it will serve as an avenue to brief Mr. President on what is lacking in the Correctional center.
“The prison is in charge of all custodians of crime data in the whole country. When the Police, Military or DSS takes people to court, they bring them to Correctional Centers. So it is imperative for the Controller General to also attend Security Council meetings with the President so as to give him first hand information, especially on security tips”, Gotom said