Rauf Aregbesola, minister of interior, has ordered commanders of the Nigeria Correctional Service (NCS) to defend correctional facilities in the country at all cost.
Addressing squadron commanders of the Nigerian Correctional Service (NCS) in Abuja on Friday, Aregbesola noted that custodial centres are “sacred and inviolable institutions” and must be defended.
The minister’s comment comes amid concerns over increased attacks on security facilities — including prisons.
He added that the commanders are empowered by the highest authority in the land to “use every means necessary to defend the custodial centres against internal and external aggression”.
“It is not in dispute that attempts are always made to compromise the integrity of the custodial centres – from within or without or simultaneously. This ranges from the mild to the very serious, with varying degrees of success,” 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.
“The custodial facilities are a symbol of the authority of the Nigerian state. They are sacred and inviolable institutions. You will notice that they are usually built around military fortresses, to show how important they are.
“This is to deter would-be attackers from inside or outside. More importantly, you are armed and positioned to directly guard them and defend their integrity. Your mission is to defend the facilities at all cost. 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.
“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.”
He charged the officials to be vigilant and watch out for instruments that can aid jailbreaks.
“It will be difficult, if not impossible, for inmates to break from inside without receiving assistance from officers, no matter how little,” he said.
The minister noted that the primary reason for holding criminals is to put them in a condition where they will not be a menace to the society.
He added that another reason stems from the notion that humans are capable of being good and, therefore, subject to reformation at the right environment.
Aregbesola, therefore, said it is necessary “for all of them to complete their term or be kept in custody as stipulated”.