THE Ebonyi State chapter of the Committee for the Defence of Human Rights, CDHR, yesterday, accused officials of Abakaliki federal prisons of extra-judicial killings in the attempted jail-break which occurred at the prisons last week. The accusation became necessary following findings that 14 inmates were reportedly shot dead during the incident which caused pandemonium at the prisons, its environs and among the people of the state.
But the Controller General of Prisons, Ja’afaru Ahmed who visited the prison a day after the incident officially confirmed that only six inmates lost their lives as a result of the ugly episode. Briefing newsmen in Abakaliki, the state chairman of the human rights group, Comrade Emeka Anosike further accused the prison officials of deliberately misinforming the public on the true episode of what happened in the state. “
We are not happy the way inmates were killed in the incident of last week. The state Controller General of Prisons, Mrs. Emilia Oputa in a press conference at the prison yard said there was no casualty from the attempted jailbreak. “There was a big twist to the claim when the Controller of Prisons, Ja’afaru Ahmed visited Ebonyi state to have a first hand information of the incident, and when he went to brief the Governor of Ebonyi state of the incident, he confirmed that six prison inmates died in the process of security agents attempt to quell the attempted jailbreak and that many others sustained various degrees of injuries.
“With this obvious contradictory statements of the State Controller of Prisons and the Controller General of Prisons, the Committee for the Defence of Human Rights, Ebonyi state branch felt that there was a cover up and conducted a preliminary investigation into the matter which revealed that not less than 14 prison inmates of the federal prisons Abakaliki were deliberately shot and killed by a combined team of security agents, including the police mobile force drafted from the police headquarters Abakaliki and the armed prison guards, and about 16 other inmates were critically injured as result of the gunshots they sustained from the attack by security agents”, the group wrote. The group demanded for immediate removal of the state Controller of Prisons and her Deputy over the inmates’ killings, describing the killings as an obvious act of human rights violation as stated in the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. The group which rejected the three man panel of inquiry set-up by the prisons authorities to investigate the killings noted that the action of the Controller General was like one being a judge in his or her own case.
“The panel of inquiry set up by Ja’afaru to look into the matter is unacceptable to us because it is like being judge over one’s case.” We want an independent judicial panel into the matter and not the prisons setting up panel. “There will be lots of cover-up in the panel set up by the Comptroller General of Prisons but if is a judicial panel of inquiry, witnesses will be called, some inmates who are alive will be called, the hospital authorities will be called and we will also be called to testify on what happened.