The Nigerian government Friday declared all correctional facilities, (prisons), across the country as red zone areas following increasing attacks and jailbreaks in recent weeks.
Minister of the interior, Rauf Aregbesola, made the declaration in Abuja while addressing all field squadron unit commanders of the armed squad of the Nigeria Correctional service, (NCOs).
The minister warned that any individual, including personnel of the service, found to be making any attempt to break into or attack any of the nation’s custodial centres should be ruthlessly dealt with using any means possible with maximum force.
“From today all our custodial centres have been declared red zones. Your mission is to defend the facilities at all cost,” Aregbesola said. “Let me repeat again, defend them at all cost.”
“You are empowered by the highest authority in the land to use every means necessary to defend the custodial centres against internal and external aggression and if any attack should succeed, you will be held accountable.
“The weapons you carry and the instrument you have are to be lawfully deployed for maximum effect, in protecting the facilities. Anyone or group of persons that decide(s) to attack them should not live to regret it. You must not fail because failure means you have contributed to the insecurity in the land by allowing criminals to invade society,” the minister said.
According to the minister, the custodial facilities are a symbol of the authority of the Nigerian State. They are sacred and inviolable institutions hence must be guarded with all integrity.
Aregbesola said a clear pattern of attacks on custodial centres is emerging and the perpetrators are using the cover of the current security challenges in the country to carry out these attacks.
He said “Earlier this month, there was an attack, the worst of its kind, on the Owerri custodial centre. During the #ENDSARS riots of late last year, there were coordinated attacks on custodial centres in Edo State, while an unsuccessful attempt was made in Lagos.
“It should be clear that a pattern of attack on custodial centres is emerging, in which the current security challenges are being used to stage attacks on our facilities but enough is enough and a clear line must be drawn.”
He said custodial centres are important in keeping a healthy society and if they are compromised, they could spell irreparable danger because not only do they serve to keep the society safe from those that are considered dangerous and a menace, they also serve as reformation centres.
While urging the unit squadron commanders to go and ensure that they carry out the federal government’s instruction, Acting Comptroller-General of the NCoS, John Mrabure said it is very important that a new course is charted to tackle jailbreaks and attacks on custodial facilities as witnessed in recent time.
He said, “all unit squadron commanders here present must work together to achieve overall success.”