Between July 27, 2009 when Boko Haram terrorists allegedly attacked Maiduguri Prisons and freed 482 inmates and October 29, 2014 when another set of 366 inmates were also freed following the overrun of Mubi, the second largest town in Adamawa State, a total 2,255 prison inmates have been freed from various prisons across the country in 14 different attacks.
However, 194 of the escapee inmates have so far been rearrested.
Spokesperson for the Nigerian Prisons Service (NPS), Mr. Ope Fatinikun gave the figures in Abuja on Wednesday at the Forum of Spokespersons of Security and Response Agencies (FOSSRA)/I-Nigerian Initiative media interaction in Abuja.
“A total of forty six prison officers comprising forty two serving and four retired personnel have been killed since the inception of the insurgency”.
While lamenting the negative societal attitude to ex-convicts, the NPS spokesman explained that there are robust training and productivity opportunities available to prisoners with full fledged industrial and small and medium scale enterprises established in this regard.
Some of them include furniture cottage industry, printing industry, toilet roll industry, soap cottage industry, shoe factory and an industrial complex aside 47 other agro-allied businesses scattered across the states.
He noted that inmates feeding allowance has been reviewed upwards from the current N200 to N300 and Gas N150 daily from January 2015.
In addition, “National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN) established special study centres in Kirikiri Medium Security Prison, Lagos, Enugu, Kuje, and Port-Harcourt with some inmates in Lagos bagging a university degree and post graduate diploma from NOUN. Sixty nine inmates of Borstal Institution (young people’s prison), Kaduna sat for the UTME, while another 55 inmates enrolled for the November/December NECO/WAEC examinations.”
Ope Fatinikun who identified inadequate budgetary allocation, prison congestion, inadequate staffing, insurgency and terrorism as some of the challenges facing the Service said as at June this year, 56,785 inmates made up of 18,042 convicted and 38,743 awaiting trial persons were dwelling inside the 239 prisons located in different parts of the country.
Again, 947 of these were young male offenders, 151 foreigners, 10 babies and 1,439 have been sentenced to die.
Fatinikun observed that congestion of prisons is caused by a number of factors including inadequate operational vehicles like the case in Lagos and Kaduna with over 200 and 100 courts respectively and the NPS has only 20 and 10 vehicles to convey inmates to courts for trials.
He also canvassed for the provision of heavy arms and ammunition for the service including helicopters and armoured personnel carriers for it to be able to respond to incessant attacks on prison formations and personnel.
Earlier in her welcome address, National Coordinator of I-Nigerian Initiate, Ada Stella Apiafi appealed to Nigerians to change their negative attitude towards prisoners, ex-convicts and prison officials, saying “these people should be shown love and accommodation in the society so that they will be properly re-integrated.
He commended the NPS and urged that its staff will continue to exhibit the best possible attitude which Nigerians were known for so that “we will have a better society”.