By Omeiza Ajayi, Abuja
Miffed by threats of attacks on its custodial facilities, the Federal Government has restated its shoot on sight order it earlier gave the Nigerian Correctional Service NCoS against intruders.
Lamenting that the goal of the administration of criminal justice would have been defeated and money spent on arrests, investigations, trials and prosecution wasted if inmates are allowed to escape, government said those who attack custodial centres must never live to tell their stories.
It warned against posting of lily-livered personnel to custodial facilities, saying only sharp shooters who are trained to aim at the heads of criminals should be deployed to such centres.
Accordingly, the government has also commissioned a Command and Control Room for real time monitoring of selected custodial centres across the country.
Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola gave the order on Tuesday on behalf of President Muhammadu Buhari while unveiling new service uniforms and logo for the Nigerian Correctional Service NCoS.
At the event where he also commissioned a block of barracks for junior officers and 40 operational vehicles, the minister gave awards to 25 personnel of a Kagara custodial facility in Niger state, where the personnel repelled an invasion by bandits.
He said; “As far as I am concerned, whoever attempts to attack our facilities, whoever dates should not live to tell the story. That is how best I can say it.
“Whoever attacks our custodial facility should be made to return to his maker.
“I have said it before and I will say it again that all our facilities are red zones. Rifles are for criminals, not for hunting antelopes. You don’t need any order. Don’t wait for any order. Anybody that comes to attack our custodial facilities which are the end or finishing line of administration of criminal justice, take them out. Our facilities should be inviolable and any intruder must be made to pay a huge price.
“Inmates now know that they cannot escape by themselves. They gave criminals outside who want to help them to escape.
“Any officer that is too lily livered, that cannot shoot to kill, that cannot aim the head of a criminal, should be trained correctly. Train them to shoot the head of invaders, not legs. Whoever is not bold enough to shoot to kill, don’t take them to custodial centres, except maybe the female section. Out of the over 70,000 inmates, we have less than 3000 and they don’t constitute any threat to us. So, those who are afraid to shoot, of you don’t want to dismiss them, let them be in the female prisons. But those who are going to be in the maximum and minimum custodial centres, they must be very rough people. It is a serious matter. We have had enough of the embarrassment. We must out and end to it.
“Every naira being sent on administration of criminal justice would amount to a waste if we cannot keep our end. Besides the embarrassment, it would amount to wasting trillions”, he added.
On the command and control situation room, the minister said activities at selected custodial centres would now be monitored real time from the Service’s headquarters in Abuja to guard against abuses of inmates rights and ensure adequate security surveillance.
He said; “Effective surveillance mounted in selected centres while monitored at the command and control situation room at the headquarters. Inmates can be monitored without any violation of their rights. With this, jail breaks and riots can be avoided or nipped in the bud”.
Aregbesola also advised highly placed individuals against seeking his help to facilitate the release of inmates, saying he has no powers to so do.
“I cannot order the release of anyone. Some people call me and say I should help them release some inmates. I cannot do that. We’re are custodians. We cannot take people into custody and we cannot also release those in custody except we have the authority of those who sent them to us”, he stated.
President Muhammadu Buhari had on July 31, 2029 repealed the Prisons Service Act and signed into law the Nigeria Correctional Service NCoS Act 2019.
Earlier, Controller General of Corrections CGC, Haliru Nababa said the NCoS Act 2019 heralded a paradigm shift in the Service, turning it into a more humane and acceptable system.
“To this end, there was a dire need to drive this phenomenal change into the system, by providing the appropriate setting required to accommodate the ideals of the new order. As part of efforts to blend with the renewed philosophy of the Service, new Service Uniforms were proposed and were subsequently given gracious approval by our supervising Minister, Ogbeni Rauf Adesoji Aregbesola, Minister of Interior.
“The role of officers and men in bringing to fruition, the lofty provisions of the NCoS Act, 2019 is critical hence, the need to have them represent the new narrative, attitudinally and also by physical appearance. The introduction of new set of uniforms is strategic, as it denotes renewed vigor and readiness to add value to the Service”, said Nababa.