Suleja Jail Break: Government Failure to Publish Details and Pictures of Escapee, Reveals Institutional Lapses

Chuks Okocha in Abuja

Coalition of civil society groups, the Speak Out Africa Initiatives (SOAI) yesterday said that the recent jailbreak at Suleja Correctional Service has brought to light significant institutional lapses within Nigeria’s prison system.

In a statement signed by Kenneth Eze, the Lead Director, Speak Out Africa Initiative wondered why a current capacity of 499 inmates exceeded its built capacity of 250, and the escape of 119 inmates during the recent incident, stating that it is evident that urgent action is required to address these issues.

According to Eze, “the failure of the government to publish details of the escapees including their pictures following the Suleja jail break days after, is a concerning indication of gross institutional lapses.’

He explained that  in the  light of this, they called on the appropriate authority for urgent release of the escapee details and pictures for the purpose of easy identification by the people as well as daily briefing to track progress and keep the citizens abreast.

“While the cause of the recent jail break is attributed to nature engineered by heavy downpour which brought down the dilapidated perimeter fencing of the custodian centre, this national casualty is preventable if we had proactively fixed our infrastructure given the humongous funds expended over the years,” the group stated.

In addition to addressing the immediate concerns surrounding the Suleja Prison jailbreak, Speak Out Africa Initiative recommends comprehensive prison reforms for the future.

According to the statement, “These reforms should focus on: Infrastructure Improvement: Enhancing prison infrastructure to accommodate  inmates within safe and humane conditions, in line with international standards.Staff Training andWelfare:Providing adequate training and support for prison staff to ensure effective management and supervision of inmates.

“Technological Solutions:Implementing technology-based solutions, such as CCTV surveillance and biometric identification systems, to enhance security and monitor inmate movements. Rehabilitation and Reintegration Programmes:Prioritising rehabilitation and  reintegration programme to reduce recidivism rates and facilitate the successful transition of inmates back into society Community Engagement:Engaging communities in the reintegration process to foster acceptance and support for former inmates.

“Emergency Preparedness:Developing robust emergency preparedness plans to mitigate the impact of unforeseen events, such as natural disasters.”, the civil society group stressed.

SOAI demanded the immediate release of escapee details to the public and calls for daily briefings to track progress in recapturing

the escaped inmates, stating that “Transparency is crucial in restoring public trust and confidence in the government’s ability to manage custodial centres effectively.”

The group said that It becomes a herculean task for citizens to be asked to identify escaped inmates when adequate ‘helpful’ information is not given to the same citizens –which  makes it counterproductive.

Speak Out Africa Initiative urges the Federal Government of Nigeria to take immediate action to address the root causes of jailbreaks in custodial centres across the country, explaining that  failure to do so not only compromises public safety but also undermines the integrity of the criminal justice system.

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