Senate Reveals Truth Behind Suleja “Jailbreak”: Crumbling Walls Blamed for Inmate Escape

In a recent briefing by Senator Adams Oshiomhole, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Interior, key insights emerged regarding the reported jailbreak at the Suleja Medium Security Custodial Centre in Niger State. Contrary to initial impressions, the incident was attributed not to a coordinated escape effort but rather to the structural failure of the prison’s aged infrastructure, constructed over a century ago with mud bricks.

Senate Reveals Truth Behind Suleja Jailbreak Crumbling Walls Blamed for Inmate Escape
Senate Reveals Truth Behind Suleja “Jailbreak”: Crumbling Walls Blamed for Inmate Escape

Senator Oshiomhole elucidated that the dilapidated state of the prison walls, dating back to 1914, played a pivotal role in the escape of 119 inmates during a storm on April 24, 2024. The facility, originally built to accommodate approximately 200 individuals, now houses 419 inmates, highlighting the strain on its outdated infrastructure.

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“It was not really a jailbreak,” Senator Oshiomhole clarified, emphasizing the impact of heavy rainfall and storms that led to the collapse of the prison walls and roofs. He likened the situation to that of a private home succumbing to severe weather conditions, prompting inhabitants to seek refuge elsewhere.

Acknowledging the efforts of Interior Minister Hon. Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo and security agencies, Senator Oshiomhole commended the swift re-arrest of some escaped inmates and assured continued endeavors to locate the remaining individuals.

Hails Interior Minister, Tunji-Ojo’s efforts in revamping prisons

The briefing underscored the necessity of modernizing Nigeria’s prison system, shifting focus from mere containment to effective rehabilitation. Senator Oshiomhole stressed the imperative of allocating resources towards upgrading prisons to meet contemporary standards, leveraging technological advancements to enhance security measures.

Furthermore, the Senate addressed systemic issues within the justice system, notably the preponderance of individuals held in custody pending trial. Senator Oshiomhole lamented the incarceration of individuals presumed innocent under the law, calling for a review of practices that perpetuate this injustice.

“Majority of people in our prisons have not been convicted,” Senator Oshiomhole lamented, highlighting the disproportionate burden placed on state resources to sustain pre-trial detainees. He emphasized the need for equitable distribution of responsibilities between federal and state authorities, particularly regarding funding for individuals detained under state offenses.

In light of these challenges, the Senate pledged to conduct comprehensive assessments of prison facilities nationwide, advocating for reforms to ensure fair and humane treatment of inmates. Senator Oshiomhole reiterated the Senate’s commitment to collaborating with the Ministry of Interior to enact legislative measures that address systemic deficiencies within the correctional system.

In response, Interior Minister Hon. Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo reassured lawmakers of the government’s proactive stance in addressing the Suleja prison incident and implementing preventative measures to forestall future occurrences. He affirmed the administration’s commitment to prioritizing the safety and welfare of inmates, promising a concerted effort to overhaul Nigeria’s correctional infrastructure.

As discussions concluded, both the Senate and the Ministry of Interior expressed optimism regarding ongoing initiatives aimed at reforming Nigeria’s prison system. With a shared commitment to effecting positive change, lawmakers and government officials alike affirmed their dedication to upholding the principles of justice and rehabilitation within the nation’s correctional facilities.

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