By Omeiza Ajayi – Abuja
The Federal Government has again ordered armed personnel of the Nigeria Correctional Service (NCoS) to make security at the nation’s custodial centres impregnable and take out invading forces without giving them the opportunity to attack such facilities.
Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola reiterated the directive on Thursday while inaugurating a vulnerability audit of the Nigerian Correctional Service NCoS custodial centres across the country.
Media Adviser to the Minister, Mr Sola Fasure in a statement issued Friday in Abuja said the report of the audit will identify the fault lines in the security setup and penetration levels of the custodial centres.
Aregbesola had at an emergency meeting with NCoS Squadron Commanders, Field Commanders and Heads of Armed Squads on April 30 in Abuja given a shoot at sight order to the personnel to eliminate any internal or external aggressor.
He also declared custodial facilities as “red zones” that must remain inviolable.
At the Thursday meeting, the minister said; “The vulnerability audit we have inaugurated today will identify the weakness in our security setup and will help to put in place an effective structure to assist us in better securing our facilities against future external aggression.
“In the past, the challenges to the facilities were usually internal insurrections which our system had been primed to deal with. But this new challenge, starting with the #EndSARS riots of last year, is an armed invasion by gunmen, in large numbers, bearing sophisticated weapons and military grade ordinances. They overrun the place, blow up huge holes on the perimeter fence and overpower our security system. We are determined to eliminate the threat from these attackers and ensure that our facilities are no longer vulnerable”.
He said it is sacrilegious for anyone to breach any custodial facility in Nigeria as it tantamount to toying with the sovereignty of Nigeria.
“The NCoS stands at the heart and end of Administration of Criminal Justice System. It is a critical and essential element in keeping those the Courts think must be kept away from our society. You must do all in your power to defend it.
“The custodial centres represent Nigeria’s sovereignty. They are sacred institutions that signify her authority. Anyone who aims to breach them is simply testing the might and will of the Nigerian state and must not live to regret such actions,” the Minister declared.
On his part, Controller General of Corrections, CGC Haliru Nababa, noted that teams will be inaugurated in each of the geopolitical zones and an interim report submitted in the next one week.
“Immediately we leave this venue, we are heading back to the office to operationalize this assignment. In the next one week, we are submitting an interim report of the audit and the full report will be submitted in eight weeks time.
“We are aware of the embarrassment the frequent external attacks have on our reputation as a Service and as a country. We are assuring the Minister that our officers are ready to combat all attacks on our facility. Already, the Service has sent the first batch of 150 armed personnel for training at a military formation in Kontagora. Others are billed to complete their training in the next couple of weeks” the CGC disclosed.