Low fence, absence of CCTV cameras responsible for Kuje prison break, Reps C’ttee told

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By Aaron Ossai

Members of the House of Representatives Joint Committee on Reformatory Institutions, Justice, Police Affairs, Interior, and Human Rights were yesterday told by the Nigerian Army that low fences and the absence of CCTV cameras was largely responsible for the Kuje prison break on July 5, 2022.

It would be recalled that the Joint Committee is investigating the whereabouts of inmates who escaped from Kuje Corrections Center.

Major Peter Ogbuinya, Assistant Director Commercial Law, Directorate of Legal Services, said after the prison break, the army “observed that the place where Kuje prison is located is more of a built-up area.”

“We observed issues of low fencing and a lack of CCTV cameras within the area, but these were unable to be put in place before the incident”, he said.

The representative of the Chief of Army Staff, Ogbuinya, said the Nigerian Army was only playing a complementary role to the Correctional Centers to assist them adding that the army was not the only security agency deployed to Kuje prison.

“The day it took place, we had a rotation of troops, and it was that day the incident took place. I wouldn’t want to comment on the possibility of having an insider.

“Prior to that incident, the Nigerian army wrote a series of letters to the Comptroller General of the Correctional Service concerning our observations and things that would enhance security.

“We are still working to know if there are any soldiers who failed to do what they were meant to do within the military hierarchy”, he stated.

Mrs. Ayoola Daniel, representing the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, said the ministry was in support of the Committee to decongest the prison.

She said the Correctional Service had been removed from the exclusive to concurrent list, adding that states were expected to take up responsibility to decongest the prisons.

Also speaking, Philip Ayuba, Assistant Commandant General, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps asked the Committee to look into how lawyers who are in the National Youth Service Corps could be engaged in providing services for prisoners.

“We still have so many young men in prison; we are requesting that NYSC lawyers be sent to prison to look at some of the minor cases so that we can decongest the prison, he said and called for the need to embrace alternative conflict resolution, adding that this would also help to decongest the prison.

“We also suggest that those who have stayed more than a year or two should be given amnesty. They need to give the inmate better training so that those who leave can find better things to do”, he added.

Rep. Olumide Osoba, Chairman of the Committee on Justice, said, “We found ourselves in an embarrassing situation in July 2022.

He said it was condemnable to have such a large number of prisoners, adding that there had been a lot of improvement at the correctional center since its oversight.

Rep. Chinedu Ogah, Chairman, Joint Committees, said the correctional service is key to Nigeria’s security.

He said that the committee would do what was right by ensuring decongestant while urging stakeholders to make effective contributions to do what was needed.