New Telegraph

Insecurity: Aregbesola seeks holistic approach to protect correctional centres

No one feels the pangs of recent jail breaks in the country as much as Rauf Aregbesola who is the incumbent minister of the Interior. Recent happenings in the numerous correctional facilities have continued to put on him on the edge with ordinary Nigerians with little or no knowledge of the workings of his ministry wondering what he and his team are doing to nip the embarrassing occurrences in the bud. What most Nigerians seem not to know is that the possibility of curbing the menace which is fast assuming a frightening dimension has given a negative impression of the country to the outside world.? Cognisance of the urgency and the seriousness that the situation demands being the Nigerian saddled with the task of ensuring peace and tranquility within the borders of the country, Aregbesola on Tuesday undertook visitation to Kiri kiri Custodia complex in Lagos.

Apart from assessing the level of security of the sprawling complex that was established in 1965, the former Osun State governor stated that the tour was also to ascertain the needs of the custodia facilities as a means of making them (the needs) available to them. This was not the first time the minister has deemed it proper to visit custodia facilities in the country, the visit on Tuesday was the first of such in the aftermath of a recent attack on the Kuje Correctional Centre in Abuja, the nation’s capital city by some insurgent elements operating in the country.

The attack left a sour taste in the mouth but also saw a resolute Federal Government with determination not ony to ensure the safety of inmates but also ensure the integrity of the custodia facilities across the country. Lasting over four hours, the visitation saw the minister and his entourage inspecting facilities at the three major centres located at the complex and they are the Minimum and Maximum Centres as well as the female wing. Aregbesola who took pains to assess the perimeter fencing of the complex in the company of senior Correctional Service officers, alongside their colleagues in the sister supporting military and para-military services also took tours to inspect facilities inside the three centres.

On his impression during the visit, Aregbesola lauded personnel guiding the various correctional centres in the country, saying they have been performing excellently well considering many welfare and resource constraints that they have had to grapple with in their day-to-day activities. Addressing personnel of the various security organizations attached to the centres such as Nigeria Correctional Service, the National Security and Civil Defence Corps, the Nigerian Police, as well as soldiers of the Nigerian Army attached to the complex before commencing the tour, the minister called for proper intelligence gathering as a key component of warding off attacks on the centres.

“I want to thank men of the Nigerian military, particularly men of the Nigerian Army and the Air Force, for their efforts at degrading the insurgency. The consequence of their success is what we are seeing now. These criminal elements are taking advantage of the vastness of our territory to cause these havoc,”the minister said. He lauded the efforts of military personnel operating in the North East for weakening the base of the insurgent group, insisting that the spate of insecurity in the country is symptomatic of “insurgency in its dying throes which would soon be over.” Aregbesola paid glowing tributes to the founding fathers of the country as well as the first set of managers of the facilities for putting in place structures and processes that are now being built upon by current generations.

“We must commend the initiators of this beautiful complex who had put in place the necesary designs and measures to prevent the occurence of ugly incidence such as the ones we have been having in recent times. In commending them, I say it is a call to duty that we who are the inheritors of these facilities must do our best to make it the bastion of administration of criminal justice,” he said.

While emphasizing the importance of the various correctional centres to the peace and progress of the country, Aregbesola promised that efforts would always be geared towards making sure that the centres remain a major hub for ensuring that as the end of the nation’s administration of justice. “This is the end of Nigeria’s criminal administration of justice. From crime, to its detection right through to prosecution and eventual conviction, it is here that the final and last stop for keeping convicts. For that reason, all the efforts at detection, prosecution, trial and judgment leading to sentencing will come to nought if the correctional centres are not performing their job.

“If these are to make any meaning, the safety of the inmates must be guaranteed and must not in any way be in doubt. If someone or something is at the end of a thing, it is the apogee and the most sensitive part because all the investments in criminal control and management, in the justice, management would amount to nothing if the correctional system is left porous and weak,” he said. According to the minister, all that was needed to ward off attacks on correctional centres is proper intelligence gathering and not unnecessary recourse to the use of firearms all the time. He added that would-be attackers can always be neutralized before they carry out their nefarious activities and that this should form the core of the security efforts and architecture as they strive to keep the complex safe for inmates and themselves.

Apart from inspecting facilities at the centre, the minister used the opportunity to go into closed door sessions with the leaders of the various security outfits in the three centres located at the centre. His hosts also utilized the opportunity provided by the visit to reel out the needs of the various centres to Aregbesola . Emerging from the Maximum Correctional Centre, Aregbesola while fielding questions from newsmen expressed delight at the state of affairs in the complex with a call on the security agents not to allow any slack in their operations.

“What I did as I entered the complex was to assess the state of the road and the general state of things. I am satisfied by one thing, that the planners of this complex had security in mind. At the end of the complex is the Navy town. I won’t say more than that.

We also have a divisional command of the police,” he said. He stated amongst others that the purpose of the visit was to assess the general state of things, the general governance structure and to assess the vulnerability of the complex to external attacks within available resources. On the state of the road and general esthetics of the complex, he promised to liaise with the Lagos State Government with a view to making it (state government) help in their rehabilitation. He added that the visit achieved its aim of ascertaining the state of affairs in the complex, adding that the Medium centre needs some form of rehabilitation in terms of upgrade. He gave the female facility a pass mark, saying the managers had done excellently well. “When I say that the management of the centre has done well, it is not just the current one but it seems the centre has always been lucky since inception.

The level of care and efforts of uplifting and maintaining it is commendable, ” he added just as he gave the same compliment to the Maximum Prisons. He urged the managements of the facilities to fashion out robust engagement with the society, especially the organized private sectors, public spirited individuals as well as non-governmental organisations with a view to meeting their needs.

He urged the society to draw up a nexus between a functional correctional process and institution and peace, saying the Federal Government sometime ago in its wisdom reformed the prison system away from the punitive constabulary model to a correctional one where the inmates would have another opportunity at better life. “All those who are beneficiaries of a peaceful and orderly society should not leave it to the government alone; they must wake up and be part of the process by supporting the institution, ”he concluded

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