By Omeiza Ajayi
ABUJA—Irked by the recent attacks on Kuje and Koton Karfe Medium Prisons, the Federal Government has announced plans to equip its prison formations with Closed Circuit Television Cameras, CCTVs, for enhanced surveillance. Minister of Interior, Gen. Abdulrahman Dambazau (retd), stated this yesterday in Abuja while addressing top officials of the Nigerian Prisons Service at a meeting described by participants as “soul-searching.”
He also read the riot act to personnel who shirk their responsibilities, saying while the federal government has a duty to provide facilities and train the personnel, the service must be active at all times. Dambazzau said: “I know the significance of the prisons service as the custodian of all categories of inmates whether convicted or awaiting trial, low or high-profile. You also have the responsibility to rehabilitate those in custody.
“That is why we are having this meeting to tackle the incessant problem of prison break. In the last two months, we have had two incidents. I believe that this is not good news at all. So, we have to find ways of dealing with them.
“First, I am aware that quite a number of prisons have structural problems, even the most recent ones are not constructed according to standard. Secondly, I am also aware that most of the prisons are old. Some, like the Kano prisons are over a century old. I am also aware that the inmates have risen and prisons staff have not been expanded.
“Despite all these problems, there is something fundamental that rests on our shoulders – routine. That is, those things that you know must be done to ensure the security of the prisons.
‘’These are not things that require putting down money all the time. For example, constant patrol, knowing the number of prisoners even by their names and all those things. And these are some of the things we fail to do and I believe that this is a function of leadership.
‘’The responsibility lies squarely on your shoulders as leaders. Those other problems cannot be overcome in one day but medium-to long term.” On the issue of CCTV, he said: “Of course, some of the prisons have that now and we intend extending it to others, but because of the dwindling resources, we shall do them in phases.”