The Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS) has beefed up security at the nation’s borders in a bid to arrest the inmates and suspects who escaped from the Imo jailbreak as they may be planning to flee the country.
The Spokesperson for the NIS, Mr Sunday James, stated that immigration had received the names and photos of some of the escapees from the National Correctional Service (NCoS)NCoS.
James said, “We have the details of those people (suspects). They have been sent to us officially. So, we are monitoring with those pictures as a sister agency. We have sent the photos to our border officers and they are monitoring with those pictures’’.
The Nigeria Police Force has also launched a manhunt for the fleeing prisoners.
Over the years, the country’s correctional centres have been excessively congested. The 244 custodial centres have a capacity of about 50,153, but there are about 75,000 inmates, out of which over 50,000 (about 70 per cent) are awaiting trial while over 20,000 (about 30 per cent) had been convicted. This had consistently attracted criticisms from experts, analysts and government officials.
President Muhammadu Buhari in 2017 said it was a scandal for the nation’s prisons to be congested to up to about 90 per cent. “We need a new approach to prison congestion; it is a national scandal that many of our prisons are overcrowded by up to 90 per cent,” he said when the then Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen, led a delegation of the justices of the Supreme Court, Appeal Court as well as heads of other judicial organs to pay him a courtesy visit at the Presidential Villa.
Apart from the congestion, the appalling state of the correctional centres had constituently been a source of worry for many. Vice-President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo, once said anyone who entered the Port Harcourt Prison as a human being could come out as an animal.
Apart from the three custodial centres mentioned earlier, there have been jailbreaks in the country without any record to show that all the escapees returned or were captured.
Some of the jailbreaks included those in Bauchi, Maiduguri, Okitipupa, Minna, Nsukka, Kogi and the Federal Capital Territory. In Bauchi and Maiduguri, some of those who escaped were Boko Haram members.