Prison service begins probe of Abuja jailbreak

The  officer in-charge of the Kuje Medium Prisons, Musa Tanko and the Chief Warder, Stephen Gbabo, may be queried over the mysterious escape of two notorious kidnappers from prison custody last Friday,

Chief Warder, Stephen Gbabo
Chief Warder, Stephen Gbabo

It was gathered on Sunday that the two senior officers as well as the yardmaster and the officer on duty during the jailbreak might be queried on Monday (today) for negligence and for failing to secure the inmates in their custody.

Two high profile kidnappers, Maxwell Ajukwu and Solomon Amodu who abducted and killed a woman, Mrs. Edith  Aliyu, escaped from the Kuje prisons in a daring jailbreak while Muslim inmates were breaking their Ramadan fast.

One of our correspondents learnt the dramatic escape of the two notorious criminals who used a plank to scale the high wall of the prisons, is raising questions about the culpability of the prisons officers and the soldiers on duty during the incident.

Though two prisons service officers had been detained following the jailbreak, sources said that many more personnel might be detained and interrogated in the course of investigation into the incident.

Already, the Controller-General of Prisons, Ahmed Jafa’aru, had sent a team to the Prison to carry out preliminary investigations, noting that any member of staff found culpable would be made to face the full wrath of the law.

A source said, “A team sent by the CG has commenced investigation into the jailbreak. The two officers responsible for the prison, the officer in-charge and the Chief Warder and other officers under them are likely to get their queries on Monday for failing in their duties to secure the facility and if they were found culpable, I’m afraid, that might mark the end of their career in the Nigerian Prisons Service.”

Meanwhile, it was gathered that the prison authorities had isolated the leader of the Movement for the Emancipation of Niger Delta, Charles Okah, in his cell, for having a fever.

The Prisons Service Public Relations Officer, Francis Enobore, could not be reached for comment on Sunday as calls to his phone  failed to connect. He had yet to respond to an SMS sent to him as of the time of filing this report.

Meanwhile, Okah, who is currently detained over his ongoing trial before a Federal High Court in Abuja for allegedly masterminding the October 1, 2010 bombing in Abuja, has denied any involvement in the jailbreak that occurred at  Kuje Prison, Abuja on Friday.

A statement issued on Sunday by a  lawyer, Mr. Timipa Okponipere, who indicated to be the detainee’s counsel, said Okah never escaped from prison.

The statement said Okah was initially speculated to have fled the prison when he could not been seen, as he was at that time under isolation for suspected Lassa Fever.

Okponipere of First Law Solicitors, said the news of Okah’s alleged escape, quickly spread because of his popularity among the inmates.

The statement partly read, “Our client has instructed us to notify the general public that he was not involved in any manner whatsoever in the prison break which occurred at about 7pm on Friday, June 24, 2016 at the Kuje Maximum Security Prison in Abuja.

“It is our client’s brief that he was quarantined in an isolation room within the Kuje Prison Clinic for a suspected Lassa Fever infection when news of the incident broke.

“On account of his popularity amongst the inmates, word quickly spread that our client was among the two inmates who escaped by scaling the 25 feet-high Kuje Prison fence. It took almost 24 hours for the inmates and Prison Authority to realise that our client had not escaped from the Prison.

“Our client has further instructed us to notify Nigerians and the international community that, God willing, and without prejudice to his ongoing trial, he shall triumphantly walk out of the Kuje Prison gates as a free and vindicated man.

“He has already set his sights, upon his release, on working assiduously with the current administration to bring stability to the Niger Delta region.

“He is, however, using this opportunity to appeal to the judiciary, particularly, Hon. Justice Gabriel Kolawole, to speedily determine his case; which has dragged on for nearly seven years.”

The statement also said Okah called on the people of Niger Delta to support a group it called AARON TEAM 2 put together by MEND to negotiate with the Federal Government on the issues concerning the future of the region.