Air Commodore Yusuf Anas (Rtd)
Air Commodore Yusuf Anas (Rtd)
Air Commodore Yusuf AnasA report has shown that more than 80 percent of prison inmates in the country  are awaiting trials,  owing to unwholesome criminal justice system in the country.
The report just released by the Centre for Crisis Communication(CCC) to mark its one year of dedicated service to the nation notes that the Nigerian Prisons Service sits at the very heart of Nigeria’s security architecture  and should not be toyed with as the agency statutorily responsible for holding convicted offenders.
The Executive Secretary of the Centre, Air Commodore Yusuf Anas (Rtd) who made the report available to the media further said the remaining 20 percent represents convicted prisoners stressing that apart from the convicted offenders, the prisons also provide abode for those who are still awaiting trials for various crimes and offences ranging from pick-pocketing to terrorism.
It noted that the prisons are indeed very sensitive and important security institution which must be accorded its place of priority  and strategic importance in the overall interest of the society.
The Centre expressed dismay over reported cases of security breaches that led to attempted and actual prisons breaks across the country adding that an assessment of a number of Nigerian Prisons revealed a dire situation across the various prison facilities in the country.
It observed that apart from the obsolete and debilitating state of most of the prisons, there is an apparent shortage or inadequacy of the holding facilities resulting to congestion and most times over stretched with mostly awaiting trial inmates (ATI).
It called on the authorities to carry out reforms to make prisons across the country more  habitable,  noting that the staggering ratio of actual convicts to the awaiting trial inmates (ATI) is indicative of a systemic failure in our criminal justice system.
Meanwhile the Centre does not support the current agitation for the break up of the country but however as this would mean a setback of years of unity and progress enjoyed by Nigerians.
The  centre deplored the situation in Internally Displaced  Persons (IDPs) camps across the country and called for unhindered  access to humanitarian activities from both government  and international donor agencies. It nevertheless commended the National Emergemency Management Agency (NEMA) for its relentless intervention on the plights of IDPs.
It however commended government’s efforts at tackling Boko haram  and other insurgencies in the country.
Please see below the detail of the report and the statistic of Awaiting Trial inmates

CENTRE FOR CRISIS COMMUNICATION ONE YEAR ANNIVERSARY MEDIA BRIEFING HELD 0N 7 SEPTEMBER 2016

Gentlemen you are welcome to the media briefing by the Centre for Crisis Communication (CCC) specially organized to commemorate our one year anniversary. Over the past one year, the Centre has tried to carry out its mandate with relative successes and certainly not without some challenges. Occasionally we periodically brief the media to availed the public analysis of issues of crisis and potential crisis situations in and around the country. Centre appreciates the understanding and support it has so far received from you members of the press. We consider you as indispensable partners in our quest for effective crisis communication. The Centre solicits for your continuous collaboration towards building a safe and secure Nigeria.

 

As we have always stated in our previous interactions, the core of objective of our day to day activities is the painstaking monitoring and evaluation of some socio-economic and political issues which are dynamic in our society with a view to identifying areas or issues that could possibly breed conflicts or escalate into crisis situations. As part of activities marking the one year anniversary of the Centre, we wish use this opportunity to also highlight the following developments in our country.

 

UNWHOLESOME STATE OF NIGERIAN PRISONS

The Centre notes that the Nigerian Prisons Service sits at the very heart of Nigeria’s security architecture as the agency statutorily responsible for holding convicted offenders. Apart from the convicted offenders, the prisons also provide abode for those who are still awaiting trials for various crimes and offences ranging from pick-pocketing to terrorism. The prisons are indeed very sensitive and important security institution which must be accorded its priority place and strategic importance in the overall interest of the society.

 

The recent reported cases of security breaches that led to attempted and actual prisons breaks across the country is therefore a source of worry to Nigerians. An assessment of a number of Nigerian Prisons revealed a dire situation across the various prison facilities in the country. Apart from the obsolete and debilitating state of most of the prisons, there is an apparent shortage or inadequacy of the holding facilities. No doubt, most of the prisons are congested and over stretched not only with convicted criminals but mostly by awaiting trial inmates (ATI). Most of the reported cases of prison breaks in the country happened in the course of riots by the prisoners over prevailing poor conditions of living. 

 

The staggering ratio of actual convicts to the awaiting trial inmates (ATI) is indicative of a systemic failure in our criminal justice system.

It is public knowledge that some of these ATI have spent far more years in the prisons waiting for justice. The Centre is convinced that the unwieldy number of inmates in most of the prisons, dilapidated structures and poor condition of service of the prison staff are some of the factors responsible for the recurring jail breaks in Nigeria.

 

The Centre therefore suggest that urgent steps should be taken that would see the reduction of the number of ATI which in turn will lead to the decongestion of the prisons. The steps include an overhauling of our criminal justice system to ensure rapid administration of justice. Equally important is adequate funding of the Nigerian Prisons Service to enable it fortify the prisons with trained personnel and modern facilities that will aid security and surveillance in our prisons. See the detailed info graphic analysis of situation in a few of the prisons that were assessed by the CCC.

 

Analysis of 7 Nigerian Prisons depicting year of establishment, location, capacity, population, awaiting trial inmates and convicted inmates as at March, 2016.

S/No

Location

Year of Establishment

Capacity

Population

Awaiting trial

Convicted

% of Awaiting Trial inmates

1

Ikoyi

1951

800

2239

1965

274

88%

2

Katsina

1918

238

1069

997

72

93%

3

Kano Central

1910

690

1609

942

667

59%

4

Umuahia

1970

400

1035

993

42

96%

5

Owerri

1948

548

2144

1983

161

93%

6

Port-Harcourt

1918

804

3593

3209

384

89%

7

Enugu

1915

638

1964

1677

287

85%

Data collated by the Centre for Crisis Communication (CCC)

SITUATION REPORT ON THE INTERNALLY DISPLACED PERSONS (IDPs)

We recall that following the intensification of violence in the north east by the Boko Haram terrorists, there is currently a major humanitarian crisis in most parts of that region. Aside from the numerous deaths and destruction of properties occasioned by the activities of the sect, over 2 million people, mainly women and children, were displaced from their communities. The highest number of displacements took place in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa States.

The August 2016 round of Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM) assessment conducted by a team comprising representatives of National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), the respective State Emergency Management Agencies (SEMA) and Nigeria Red Cross indicated the following:

i.                 A total of 2, 093, 030 IDPs (370,389 households) were identified in Abuja, Adamawa, Bauchi, Benue, Borno, Gombe, Kaduna, Kano, Adamawa, Plateau, Taraba, Yobe and Zamfara.

ii.               A total of 1,878,205 (89.74%) IDPs captured through the DTM assessment were displaced by insurgency. 

iii.              Majority of the IDPs are identified in Borno (1,446,829) followed by Adamawa (163,559) and Yobe (135,442) states.

iv.             Of the total displaced population, 54% are children, 53% are females and 7.0% are above 60 years.

 

Situation in the Camps         

The Centre undertook an assessment visit to some IDP camps in Borno state in August 2016 with a view to assessing progress made in the management of the camps and identified challenges. The Dalori camp for example which currently accommodates over 25,000 IDPs and one of the largest Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camps in the State still has basic necessities such as food, water, Medicare and sanitary facilities being a huge challenge. This is in spite of all the reports about foodstuffs, materials and cash donations from governments, international humanitarian agencies, groups and individuals. Hunger, malnutrition and starvation hallmark the daily condition in the camp.

Investigations and interactions with the IDPs revealed very disgraceful and criminal activities of some unscrupulous camp officials who divert foodstuffs and other materials meant for the camps. The Centre discovered that thousands of bags of rice and other food items are regularly diverted and re-bagged for sale in markets by state officials who are primarily in charge of camp administration. The impunity, ineptitude and insensitivity of these officials are basically responsible for the intolerable conditions in the camps. This underscores the reasons behind the current malnutrition of children, women and the aged experienced in the camps. For example, why should lack of firewood be a stumbling block to efficient feeding system in the IDP camps? These shortcomings have ensured that despondency, anguish, irritability and bottled-up anger pervade the camps. This is certainly not ideal for the psyche of the IDPs or safe for the society that they will ultimately be reintegrated into.

 

Our findings equally revealed that several of the “humanitarian agencies” that are more often in the news for one intervention or the other are really not physically on the ground in the camps. Except for a few acclaimed agencies like Red Cross, most of the agencies operate from hotel rooms from where they coordinate their publicity stunts. Their so-called ‘interventions’ and ubiquitous presence in the news media has little direct bearing to the welfare of the IDPs.

 

The Centre is of the view that there is an urgent need to review the management approach in IDP camp administration in relation to the handling of welfare needs of the IDPs. This will enable the authorities to block loopholes that engender unwholesome practices. Despite the huge donations in cash, materials and foodstuff from local and the international community, feeding and basic needs should really not be an issue in the camps. In this regard, we are urging the various governments to take a closer look at the activities of the camp officials. The Centre has noted with satisfaction the commendable roles of the Nigerian Army and Nigerian Air Force in the provision of regular medical outreach facilities and temporary educational facilities to the IDPs. We solicit for more support from all well to do men and women in our country to rise up towards assisting the IDPs with additional materials and logistic support. While we commend the efforts of several NGOs and CSOs who have been  offering valuable material, spiritual and psychological assistance to the IDPs, we want to specifically acknowledge the efforts of NEMA in not only providing the necessary facilities at the camps but also constantly monitoring to ensure these essential materials are  provided regularly.

 

DIALOGUE /AMNESTY FOR BOKO HARAM

There is no doubt that the Nigerian military has largely achieved the mandate given them to crush the Boko Haram (BH) terrorists about a year ago. Although the operation is not over yet, these are certainly key indicators that the Nigerian military and other security agencies are winning the war against terror. The Centre is particularly excited about the rescue of thousands hostages made up of men, women, children and the aged freed from Boko Haram captivity over the past one year.  Several territories and communities have been liberated with thousands of battle-weary ex-Boko Haram members surrendering to the superior fire power of Nigerian security agencies. 

 

 The subdued terror group no longer poses much threat to the Nigerian state. Indeed, a clear sign of the weakened position of the BH is the recent emergence of the Al- Barnawi group. There is no gainsaying that terror groups world over capitalise on modern information super highway to seek support and alliances. The recognition of the Al- Barnawi has therefore finally laid to rest the previous speculations on the BH alliance with the ISIS. While the military and security agencies have continued to intensify counter- terrorism efforts to end the insurgency, we must accept that the recent recognition of the BH splinter group has increased the complexity of the terror groups’ threat to Nigeria even if from a weakened position.

 

Accordingly, military solution as the Centre has stated in the past is not the only option. We view the recent overtures by the Shekau led BH faction for release of our abducted Chibok girls in exchange of some members of his group as providing another good basis for dialogue. We note with satisfaction the ardent desire of the government for the quick release of the Chibok girls through a genuine facilitations, negotiations and mediations. The Centre urges the government to continue to keep all options open. Similarly, on the issue of amnesty, we want to urge the government to be circumspect bearing in mind the complexity of the parties involved. The Centre believes a lot more homework needs to be done through public education and sensitization in the North-East to ensure aggrieved parties subscribe to granting amnesty to the BH.

 

An Omni-bus approach of political, socio-economic, trado-religious and other stakeholders’ is required in the issue of dialogue versus amnesty. This has to take into cognizance the need for concrete and implementable post-conflict rebuilding initiatives by the government backed by a legislation of the national assembly.

 

NIGER DELTA MILITANCY

The renewed militancy in the Niger Delta has been very costly to the Nigerian state in terms of loss of lives, damage to critical national infrastructures and environmental degradation. The Centre therefore call on the militants to immediately cease from their clandestine operations and urge for restraint from all sides to avoid unwarranted consequences. Niger Delta leaders and indeed all well-meaning Nigerians should prevail on the militant groups to embrace the olive branch of dialogue to address their demands. 

 

HERDSMEN – FARMERS CLASHES

The recurring violent clashes between herdsmen and farmers in various parts of the country which have continued to result in the deaths of hundreds of Nigerians have reached a crescendo.

 

The Centre welcomes current government action aimed at finding lasting solution to these deadly clashes. The Centre believes that more discussions and legislative actions at the National Assembly level are needed to fashion out appropriate laws guiding cattle herding in the country with a view to stemming the tide of recurring incidences of bloody attacks.

 

ATTACKS ON SECURITY PERSONNEL

The Centre condemns in strongest term the recurring incidence of willful attacks and killing of security personnel by tribal militias and other criminal elements across the country. It is unwarranted, provocative and counter-productive.

The Centre viewed with shock the attack and killing of 11 soldiers by armed bandits in Bosso LGA of Niger State, recently. The soldiers were killed in a surprise attack by the bandits as they were about to deploy for cordon and search operation following reports of activities of gun runners in Kopa, Dagma and Gagaw villages in Bosso Local Government Area of the state.

 

Security personnel deployed for legitimate, official internal security duties must on no account be target of villainous attacks. Citizens must note that attacking security agents will attract retaliatory attacks by the security forces which definitely will not augur well for both the perpetrators and the community at large. The citizens owe it a duty to not only assist the security personnel with valued information that will aid our security agents to carry out their legitimate duties.

 

Indeed, the Centre recalls the savage attack on officers of Nigerian Police and the Department of State Service in 2013 by members of the Ombatse cult group in Nasarawa State that led to the death of over scores of security personnel. 

Again, in September, 2015, no fewer than 10 personnel of the Department of State Services were killed by pipeline vandals in the Alepo creeks, Ogun State. The security operatives were on a legitimate duty at the creeks to police the oil pipelines when they were swooped upon and murdered in cold blood by the vandals.

 

Similarly, on May 10, 2016, gunmen suspected to be militants laid siege and killed three soldiers attached to the Joint Task Force in the Niger Delta at Foropa, Southern Ijaw LGA of Bayelsa State. The soldiers were also on legitimate surveillance duty against militants who were blowing up pipelines in the Niger Delta when they were ambushed and killed.  These are just a few of such ugly incidences apart from the well-known attacks on security personnel by the Boko Haram terror group.

 

THE CALLS FOR RESTRUCTURING OF NIGERIA

The Centre has also noted the recent calls for the restructuring of the country by some notable Nigerians. Some proponents posits that the only solution to the current socio-economic and political challenges in the country is to restructure it in such a way as to give room for fiscal federalism. Several variants of these advocacies and models are constantly being advanced which the proponents believe hold keys to our current problems. However, the extreme position is the one calling for the breakup of Nigeria if the present federal system is not working.

 

The Centre has no problem with Nigerians with different altruistic intentions coming out to proffer solutions to the country’s myriad of challenges. In fact, the Centre believes and encourages healthy cross fertilization of ideas and exchanges aimed at making our democracy and country great. However, the Centre urges Nigerians to be circumspect with calls for the breakup of the country.  Anything that will lead to the disintegration of a united Nigeria must be jettisoned. The Centre does not believe in or subscribe to anything other than a peaceful, united, prosperous and progressive Nigeria.

 

Thank you all.

 

Air Commodore Yusuf Anas

Executive Secretary

Centre for Crisis Communication

Abuja

September 7, 2016

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