Insecurity in the country has taken a horrifying dimension beyond what it was between the late 90s and the early 2000 when the mainstream of insecurity bordered on burglary, bag snatching at busy street corners, robbery with light weapons, cultism or cult activities (especially at nights), car snatching at gunpoint, tribal conflicts among others.
But over time, these criminals have developed into hostage takings, killings, kidnappings of individuals or school children for ransom.
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The activities of Boko Haram, bandits and secessionists, over the past few years, have metamorphosed into serious national and international security concerns.
The incidences of jail or prison break are novel in Nigeria, though there have been occurrences of an inmate or two escaping from the holding facility or whenever they are brought out of the prison yard.
The Nigerian Correctional Service urgently needs endemics steps, which may include the following to create security and protection of officers, facilities, inmates etc.
Firstly, the construction and establishment of maximum and medium custodians within the cosmopolitan and other densely populated areas should be discouraged. It is a fact that the Nigerian population of over 200 million is made up of 60 to 65 per cent of active age, (16 – 55) who most at times reside in towns or busy cities. The pressure on these youths in addition to the down-turn economic realities creates easily inflammable or restive attitudes, which most times occasions high crime rates. The restiveness of these youths could be capitalised on by any unscrupulous group to attack those holding facilities in such locations for the promise of pittance.
It is suggested and totally imperative that Medium and Maximum custodian centres warehousing thousands of inmates, whether awaiting trials or serving jail terms, be sited in rural or less populated areas to hide them from the easy prying eyes of unpopular groups, bandits etc.
Secondly, there should be a narrative, which should include the state and local government’s involvement in the profiling of special or classic criminals held in the facility within their various domains. When these authorities are aware of the capacity of the presence of criminals or crime kingpins held in their domain could stand a chance to influence or cause danger, they will take proactive steps to avoid any mayhem it could cause. There should also be a close-knitted involvement of the Chief Judge of the state, Chief Security Officer of the state, the Speaker of the House of Assembly, the local government chairmen and the Correctional Service authorities in engaging in serious profiling, documentation, identification and marking of criminals and suspects held in their domains.
There is also the urgent need to construct custodian centres in a most suitable way to meet world standards to avoid being easily broken into. This can be done by creating a buffer zone of at least two metres between the high wall of the custodial facility and the external fence warehousing the facility, the buffer zone is to be manned by fully armed officers of the correctional services armed squad who should be kinetically hostile to any unauthorised entering into the buffer zone.
For further pre-cautioning measures, the custodian centres should have the Twin Towers Jail or the Prison Guard Tower manned by armed squared with automatic rifles.
The recent pledge made by the Controller General of the Nigeria Correctional Service to give individual attention and focus on security, inmates reformation and staff welfare will go a long way to further remedying the situation.
Francis Osemwengie, esq wrote from Abuja