7 die in Kaduna jail break
Seven prisoners were killed during an attempted jail break in Kaduna yesterday, while the administrative offices and workshop as well as entire prison records were razed down by rampaging inmates.
No prisoner escaped in the foiled move, which was the second in four months.
Although journalists were barred from entering the prison for an on-the-spot assessment, billows of smoke were seen from outside and fire fighting vehicles kept bringing water till afternoon. Similarly, reporters were cordoned off when ambulances were evacuating corpses brought from inside the prisons.
Several injured prisoners and one wounded prison guard were taken to a nearby infirmary, according to reports.
A source told Daily Trust that authorities got a leak that inmates would strike at around 5am when some of them are usually taken outside the prison walls in search of water. Although the prisoners were not taken out at 5am yesterday, the authorities apparently did not take precautionary steps.
By 6.15am yesterday, the crisis started at the ‘G’ line where armed robbery suspects unlocked their cells and pounced on prisoners, a source said, adding that seven inmates were dead and several others were wounded in the process. However, Comptroller General of Prisons Olushola Ogundipe claimed that only two people died in the attempted jail break and no inmate escaped.
According to the source, the warders who were on night duty were overpowered by the inmates and they were only saved by reinforcements from the training school opposite the prison yard. The officials had to disguise as prisoners by wearing prison uniforms in order to escape the wrath of the rampaging inmates, he added.
There are conflicting reports as to what led to the attempted jail break. While an unofficial source said the inmates were protesting for improved welfare, Kaduna state police commissioner Tambari Yabo Muhammad blamed the incident on one condemned convict, Reverend King, who is an alleged serial rabble rouser transferred from Lagos. Reverend King has been further transferred to Katsina prison on Saturday, he said.
A source corroborated the commissioner’s explanation when he told Daily Trust that one Aminu, who was the arrow head of the failed jail break, was King’s ‘boy’.
When asked, Ogundipe refused to disclose where King is because of the security implications but he confirmed that some inmates have indeed been transferred. He blamed the crisis on congestion at the robbery awaiting trial section of the prison. Ogundipe said the Kaduna prison has the capacity to hold 524 inmates but right now, there are 797 and out of this number 539 are awaiting trial. He said a strike action by judiciary workers may have contributed to the high number of awaiting trial inmates.
In an interview with journalists, Ogundipe said that “by 6.15 this morning, the doors were unlocked when the prisoners opened them and overpowered the guards, went straight into yard and went straight to the workshop and brought out dangerous weapons which they used in attacking everybody. In the process, buildings were burnt down by the inmates, the admin block and the workshop were completely razed down by the inmates.”
He said the prisoners dug a hole around the prison wall where they attempted to escape from it. “Luckily students from the training school cordoned off the place and there was no single escape. No prisoner escaped. Not a single prisoner escaped. But we lost two inmates and 39 were injured with various degrees of injuries,” he added.
The Comptroller General said even when their cells were opened by the rioting inmates, the condemned prisoners among the convicts did not attempt to run away.
Ogundipe also thanked the Kaduna police command for bringing the situation under control, and the state government and the state emergency management agency for taking care of the wounded.