THE Federal Government has warned prison officers to be more alive to their duties in securing the prison formations across the country as it has threatened heavy sanctions against errant officers.
Minister of Interior, Lieutenant General Abdulrahman Dambazau (retired), who gave the warning at a meeting with Senior Officers of Nigeria on Tuesday in Abuja, particularly threatened heavy sanction against prison officers found culpable for cases of jail-breaks and escape from prison formations in the country.
He said it was important for prison officers to carry out their duties diligently to ensure the security of the facilities, stressing that negligence, dereliction of duty and absenteeism by officers will be severely punished.
Dambazau, however, admitted that most of the prisons were old with weak structures, with some of them over 100 years and requiring intervention by the government.
He insisted that there were certain precautions and routines that prison officials could take to prevent or foil jail-breaks.
He expressed displeasure about the last Saturday jail-break at Koton-Karfe prison, Kogi State, in which 13 inmates escaped and the escape of two detainees at Kuje prison, Abuja in June.
The minister stated that his ministry would propose an inter-ministerial committee with the Ministries of Justice and Women Affairs to work out modalities for decongesting the prisons which were overcrowded with awaiting trial inmates.
The minister said, “The prison has the responsibility to rehabilitate those in custody and this is why I believe we must view this with all seriousness in order to know how to tackle the problem of incessant prison escape. Anyone having a responsibility should perform it squarely; otherwise the consequences would be heavy.”
Dambazau criticised some prison officers for being lazy, saying that cases of absenteeism and indiscipline was on the rise in the service.
He admonished zonal comptrollers to visit the prison formations under them so as t it their subordinates in their toes.
Speaking earlier, the Controller-General of Prisons, Jafa’aru Ahmed expressed displeasure over the incessant jailbreaks, adding that the meeting was called to brainstorm on how to curb it.