Kogi Prison attack
Wednesday February 22, 2012

The recent attack on Konton-Karfe Prison in Kogi State by men suspected to be members of the violent Islamic sect, Boko Haram, that left a security man dead and about 119 inmates freed, has again exposed the palpable lack of security in some of the nation’s prisons.

The 7pm Wednesday invasion of the prison was reportedly carried out immediately after the Magrib prayer. An eye witness account narrated that on arrival the group, numbering over 20, opened fire on one of the security men at the gate and killed him instantly. They shot sporadically inside the prison, chased away the prison officials and freed some of their suspected members.

The Boko Haram sect has already claimed responsibility for the attack and freeing of their seven members. About 25 prison inmates have been re-arrested following the attack while 93 escapees are still at large. The Niger State Police Command said in Minna that they were re-arrested in Lapai-Gulu Road in Niger State.

Meanwhile, the federal government has uncovered plots to invade more prisons by the outlawed Islamic group where their members are being held with aim of setting them free. The new game plan might have been informed by the recent success the group recorded in freeing their members in Koton-Karfe Prison in Kogi State.
But in a related development, the Minister of Interior, Mr. Abba Moro, was also quoted as saying that the jail attack at the Koton-Karfe Prison was the handiwork of armed robbers contrary to the popular view that it was carried out by the Boko Haram sect.

Moro, who sated this on a courtesy visit to the State governor, Mr. Idris Wada for on-the-spot assessment of the prison to ascertain the extent of damage as well as welfare of the prison officers and inmates insisted that the attack was carried out by unknown gunmen and armed robbers who want to free their colleagues.

Regardless of who perpetrated the attack, the fact remains that that Kogi Prison was found porous and defenceless while the invasion lasted. It shows that there is serious security lax at the Koton-Karfe Prison. That the sect had its way and freed their members and other inmates without any serious resistance on the part of prison officials underscores failure of security. Or was there any official complicity in the act or an outright sabotage?
We decry the poor security situation in Koton-Karfe Prison and other prisons that might be in the same sorry state. The success of the Boko Haram attack has shown that the prison is not adequately protected. Indeed, this is another manifestation of the general insecurity in the land which the sect had exploited in carrying out their dastardly acts of violence in the country for sometime now. The overwhelming successes recorded in their various bombing campaigns showed a failure of security.

There are gaps in the story of the attack as reported from the prison officials and that of the Minister of Interior. Moro’s assertion that the attack was done by armed robbers is very ridiculous. When have robbers started invading prisons? What are they going to steal from there?
Moro should have reacted promptly and give the necessary facts of the matter before it gets public. His tale, which came some days after the event, seemed unbelievable. It shows that he is not really on top of the situation.

We call or a high powered probe into the prison attack in the bid to unravel the circumstances that led to the attack and the role played by prison officials to ward-off the attack. Nigerians deserve to know what led to the attack and its magnitude and those involved. All those found culpable or negligent in their duty during the attack should be punished.
All the run-away inmates still at large should be apprehended and brought back to the prison. Their escape poses danger to the society and the public. Efforts should be made to beef-up security in the nation’s prisons to avoid a repeat performance.

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