Friday, 2 November 2012

Rivers Jailbreak: The Untold Story Behind It | Vanguard Newspaper


Vanguard Metro, VM, gathered that security operatives got hint of the plot by the inmates to escape so they were on red alert. A security source told VM that they had expected it the previous Thursday but the inmates did not make real the plot. So security men had relaxed but remained vigilant. VM gathered that the inmates had been grumbling over what they considered congestion in the various cells.  They said facilities at
 the prison had been completely overstretched because of the congestion.
They had reportedly complained to the management of the prison but nothing was seemingly done.  The failure to respond to the complaints and grumbling of the inmates, a source said, fuelled their plot to organise a jailbreak.

A source within the prison also told VM that the inmates were not happy that Chief Judge of Rivers State and his counterpart in Bayelsa State had not visited the Federal Prison for some time. Usually such visit comes with the hope that some of the prisoners could be pardoned. According to the source, the prisoners felt they were deliberately being ignored by the two states. So to attract attention they had to organise a jailbreak.

It was not clear why they chose the sallah period to execute their plot but VM gathered that the inmates felt it was probably a time that security could be relatively relaxed in the area.  The sources said they had secured outside assistance for the jailbreak. But unknown to them security operatives were already on red alert. The source said that was why it was not difficult to quickly mobilise to foil it.

How inmates went about the plot
VM gathered that some of the inmates came back from fetching fire wood and water that
Saturday evening. When they were asked to move into their various cells, the source said they refused. And suddenly there was tension in the whole prison yard.  Some of the inmates allegedly forced open the cells of those on Awaiting Trial.  This further heightened the confusion.

They said security operatives quickly mobilised to the area and started shooting sporadically.  Two of the prisoners who were among those trying to escape through the ceiling allegedly died from gunshot injuries. Eleven others sustained bullet wounds while four successfully escaped.

It was not clear how the four who escaped made it in spite of the heavy shooting and presence of security operatives.  But a source who lives very close to the prison said he was told that they were “spiritually fortified” such that bullets could not penetrate their bodies. “I was told they had local charms that made it impossible for bullets to penetrate them.  You know these guys acquire all kinds of protective charms,” the source told VM.

VM also gathered that the prisoners broke into the office of the Chief Warder and disappeared with some documents.   They also reportedly vandalised the prison’s clinic. Another source said the plot by the prisoners to escape would have been very successful if security men had not stormed the place early enough.

According to the source, the heavy presence of security men discouraged involvement of external hands the inmates had mobilised to help in the jailbreak process.  “When their external collaborators saw the timely arrival of security men they became afraid and ran for dear lives”.

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