- Mandates committee to probe incidents
Deji Elumoye and Juliet Akoje in Abuja
The Senate on Tuesday resolved to summon the Minister of Interior, Mr. Rauf Aregbesola; the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami; and the Comptroller-General of the Nigerian Correctional Service, Haliru Nababa, over the recurring incidents of jailbreaks in different parts of the country.
It also mandated its Committee on Interior to carry out a full scale investigation into the causes of jailbreaks in some correctional centres across the country.
The invitation of the two ministers and DG of NCS by the Red Chamber is also aimed at determining the status of correctional centres nationwide, with a view to finding out the challenges in order to prevent future jailbreaks.
These formed part of the resolutions reached by the Senate following a motion brought during plenary by Senator Istifanus Gyang.
The motion was titled ‘Terror Attacks on two Communities in Plateau North and Jail Break at the Jos Medium Security Correctional Centre Jos.’
Gyang, while coming under order 42 and 52 of the Senate Rules to present his motion, noted with grief the multiple terror attacks on two communities of Ta’egbe, Rigwe land and Durbi, Sheri District in Bassa and Jos East Local Governments, leading to the death of over 10 persons last weekend.
According to him, the attacks caused by a security breach of the Jos Medium Security Correctional Centre was a setback to the relative and much desired peace in Plateau North.
He disclosed that nine inmates, including an officer identified as Umar A. Mohammed, were also killed, while 252 inmates escaped during the jailbreak, adding that among the inmates at large, six were fatally injured, 10 of the escapees re-arrested, 63 sentenced to death, 27 convicted and 181 awaiting trials.
Gyang said that the invaders responsible for the jailbreak “walked through a security zone and broke through to have over 200 inmates escape from the centre”.
He added that the wardens, who put up a fight against the invaders, were overwhelmed during a gun battle against the attackers.
Contributing, Senator Ahmad Babba Kaita blamed the spate of insecurity in Nigeria on the inadequate number of personnel across the various security agencies in the country.
He, therefore, called on the National Assembly to rise to the occasion by appropriating more funds to security agencies to enable them undertake recruitment of more personnel.
On his part, the Senate Leader, Senator Yahaya Abdullahi, attributed the recent jailbreak in the country to what he described as a “porous prisons system”.
He lamented that jailbreaks have become a recurring decimal which, in recent times, have exposed the lives of Nigerians to harm, as a result of prisoners on the rampage to avenge their conviction.
Also speaking, the Deputy Whip, Senator Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi, described the string of jailbreaks across the country as “unfortunate”.
According to him, the development, which must be tackled headlong, was a fallout of correctional services being the weakest link in Nigeria’s criminal justice system.
The Deputy Senate President, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, who presided over plenary, described the security breaches at correctional facilities as a “serious issue” that must be looked into.
Omo-Agege also canvassed for more funding to the office of the National Security Adviser to facilitate intelligence gathering.
He said: “Having given all the requisite funding to the security agencies, why are we still having these challenges? I think it is something we need to sleep over.
“But in the interim, it is clear that we have a serious intelligence gathering gap, there’s no debate about that.
“I think the Department of State Services (DSS) and most especially the office of the NSA, have not been given the kind of funding that is required for this fight, because they are the ones that are in charge of intelligence gathering.
“I’ve always taken the position that the office of the NSA, most especially, has been underfunded.
“He is supposed to be the one coordinating intelligence gathering and providing such intelligence to the other agencies for them to give requisite protection.
“If the office of the NSA is not properly funded, then of course it means that we are all in trouble.
“I think this is something that we must appeal to Mr. President, and even here in the leadership of the National Assembly, to look into for additional funding for the office of the NSA and, possibly, that of the DSS before the budget is finally tabled for consideration.”
Accordingly, the Senate in its resolutions called for a reinforcement of physical protection system and mechanism at correctional centres across the nation by the Ministry of Interior to forestall further attempts at jailbreaks.
It maintained that the attacks on Ta’egbe and Durbi communities in Plateau North and other communities across the nation requires more decisive and proactive measures by the Chief of Defence Staff and the Inspector General of Police, to secure law abiding citizens from incessant terror attacks, particularly now that the long awaited proscription of bandits as terrorists has been formalized by the federal government.
The Red Chamber also commended the Judiciary for the recent judgment by the Federal High Court declaring all bandits and insurgents as terrorists, adding that doing so has empowered the military to take appropriate action against them.
It also mandated its Committee on Interior to invite the Minister of Interior, Aregbesola, the AGF, Malami, and Comptroller General of the Nigerian Correctional Service, Nababa, in order to carry out full scale investigation of the status of correctional centres nationwide, with a view to finding out the challenges to prevent future recurrence of jailbreaks.
The Senate, thereafter, observed a minute silence in prayers for the victims from Ta’egbe and Durbi communities, who lost their lives during attacks on the Jos Correctional Centre.