The Comptroller-General of Prisons, Ja’afaru Ahmed has confirmed that no prisoner escaped during the attempted jailbreak in the early hours of Thursday, August 18, 2016.
He made this disclosure while addressing newsmen during a courtesy visit to the Ebonyi State governor, David Umahi, on Friday, August 19, 2016.
The Comptroller-General, who had earlier inspected Abakaliki Prisons, stated that trouble started when prison officials were about to carry out routine cell-search in the morning, adding that the inmates in a particular cell resisted the exercise.
“They suddenly became riotous, broke other cells and released the inmates. They eventually broke into the workshop to arm themselves with dangerous weapons and severely attacked some staff trapped in the yard while others made for the main gate and pulled it down.
“The prisons armed squad and men from other security agencies on guard outside the perimeter fence were firing warning shots to deter the rampaging inmates but a number of them rushed out to escape.
“The bold attempt was resisted by the combined team of armed personnel who presented what would have turned into a catastrophic security situation had the inmates succeeded in escaping,” he said.
He stated that at the end of the fracas, six prisoners regrettably died with 10 others injured. He said six prisonWs officers, however, were severely injured, adding that both staff and inmates were responding to treatment even as some of them had already been discharged from the hospital.
The Comptroller-General disclosed to newsmen that he had set up a three-man panel to carry out a detail investigation into the incident in order to establish both the immediate and remote causes of the riot.
He commended the officers and men of the Abakaliki Prisons for successfully foiling the attempted jailbreak, and also thanked officers of other security agencies that promptly responded by resisting the jailbreak.
He noted that such synergy was essential in maintaining peace and good order in the society, and also expressed appreciation to the governor for his assistance and timely visit to the prison.
Routine cell-search is a tradition in the prison usually carried out as a proactive security measure to ensure that prisoners do not keep dangerous items that could aid escape or compromise the safety of their fellow prisoners or staff.
It is the near abandonment of this practice that has largely been responsible for the recent escape of prisoners in Kuje, Koton Karfe and Nsukka prisons.