By Desmond Ekwueme

Posted  32 Views updated 28 days ago

Jailbreak or Prison break is alien to an average Nigerian. It is not in our psyche. It is not in our culture. It is our way of life irrespective of how hardened a Nigerian criminal is.

Many will tell whoever cares to listen that, they first got to know about the coinage through award winning movies in Hollywood or Bollywood.

But in the last seven months, Nigerians are coming to terms with the reality that, it may have been a new normal. Perhaps it has come to stay just like terrorism, kidnappings and corruption which the Federal Government is battling almost in futility to curb.

Some decades ago, kidnapping was strange. But it gained ground during the Niger Delta struggle for resource control as white expatriates were kidnapped by militants who demanded ransom from the perceived billions of dollars made by the multinational oil companies doing business in the region for their victims to be released.

Little did Nigerians know or understand then that, the major act of kidnapping was underway through the act of terrorism which later transformed to banditry. This time from the North.

In the North East which the terrorists took as operational abode, secondary school girls and women, majorly farmers were abducted. Ransom were demanded. The victims were raped, impregnated, married off and the unlucky ones were killed over religious affinities.

Today, the act has spread across the country.like a wild hammattan fire. But sadly, it is jailbreak that should be of great concern to the Nigerian leadership or authorities.

On October 20, 2020, hoodlums under the guise of #EndSARS Protesters attacked the two Nigerian Correctional Service (NCoS) Centres in Benin City, Edo State, where there were jailbreaks and 1,993 inmates were freed after nearly three hours of almost unhindered operation by the armed hoodlums.

In the early hours of April 5, 2021, a mass prison break occurred in Owerri, Imo State capital. A large armed group arrived in pickup trucks and on buses carrying rocket-propelled grenades, machine guns and rifles. The group entered the prison's yard by using explosives to break through the administrative block. About 1800 inmates were freed.

The incident led to the sack of the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu and the appointment of Usman Alkali Baba as replacement. There were redeployment of Imo State Commissioner of Police, his deputy and few other top officers.

This new normal should bother the minds of all especially those in government who seem to be losing grip. The first function of government is to secure lives and properties of citizens. But in a situation whereby prison inmates are set free through prison break then, one doubts if government can truly claim that it is playing that role particularly in the face of mindless killings and kidnappings among other vices.

The last time, Nigerians experienced jailbreak was on August 12, 2012, the Edo maximum security prison at Oko in Benin City, was attacked by unknown gunmen suspected to be Armed robbers in a bid to rescue their members who are largely condemn inmates. About 12 prisoners escaped from the prison.

The trend is now on the rise. One hopes something is done fast before all prisons in the country is attacked in one swoop and convicted criminals let loose to unleash terror on innocent law abiding citizens.

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