The Nigerian Prisons Service would subject handsets and SIM cards that were recovered from the Kuje Prison inmates including a Boko Haram prisoner to forensic analysis, The PUNCH learnt on Wednesday.
One of our correspondents learnt that the analysis would allow the authorities to determine who the inmates had been communicating with while in custody.
The service had seized about 25 cell phones from the inmates on Monday resulting in a riot, which led to the lockdown of the facility.
The officers fired gunshots and tear gas to subdue the unruly inmates.
The NPS’ Public Relations Officer, Francis Enobore, told one of our correspondents that the seized handsets would be subjected to analysis after which a full investigation would commence to determine how the handsets found their way into the prison cells.
Enobore explained that cell searching operation was normal, adding that the prison authorities usually carried out periodic and routine searches of cells, workshops and other places the inmates could hide weapons or prohibited substances.
He said, “The seized objects will be subjected to analysis after which a report would be collated and necessary investigation initiated; that is the tradition. Indicted officers will also be sanctioned.
“The analysis of the phones will help us to know who the inmates have been talking with; this will give you a good lead on the investigation. When you hear cases of riots or jailbreaks, it is usually carried out through unauthorised communication. That is why the CG has made it very clear that he will not tolerate trafficking of banned materials in the prisons.
“Our existence as the prisons service rests on our ability to maintain tight security in the prisons and the CG is bent on ensuring that any trafficking of articles will not be tolerated.”
Enobore added that any officer indicted for bringing the prohibited materials into the prison yard would be sanctioned.
“Am not denying that some unscrupulous members of staff may be involved, but there are so many means through which unauthorised articles go into the prisons — from relatives, lawyers and even our members of staff.
“If you don’t have people compromising standards, where will the inmates have access to these banned articles?” he said.
The spokesman observed that it was normal for the inmates to resist the search because they were always looking out for things that could aid their escape from custody.
“From time to time, we carry out searches and remove these things; there is nothing unusual in finding all these things (banned materials). You are keeping people against their wishes, and it is natural for them to want to look for things they could use to escape incarceration,” he stated.
Meanwhile, the Indigenous People of Biafra has alleged that the Federal Government masterminded the failed jailbreak at the Kuje prison in order to assassinate its leader, Nnamdi Kanu.
IPOB also added that the Federal Government used her secret police, the DSS through the prison authorities and warders in Kuje prison to execute its plans against Kanu.
In a statement on Wednesday in Umuahia, the Abia State capital, by the Publicity Secretary of IPOB, Mr. Emma Powerful, the group said it observed through an intelligent unit that the US Secretary of State, John Kerry’s visit to the North was a plan to teargas those in Kuje prison.
He added that the riot was targeted to make Kanu die a systematic death through a poisonous teargas shot to his room.
The statement partly read, “No wonder, the DSS and prison authority in Nigeria had deals to break so many prisons in Nigeria to deceive the general public to penetrate into Nnamdi Kanu’s cell in Kuje prison where the leader of IPOB is being detained.
“We also accuse the Federal Government and the DSS of the incessant jailbreaks since three months or more, it was a ground to perfect plans to kill Nnamdi Kanu, there were a series of jailbreaks in the country starting from Kogi State, Nsukka in Enugu State and Abakiliki in Ebonyi State where they killed seven prison inmates in the name of attacks on those who break jail.
“They were on a mood to kill Nnamdi Kanu and claim that he was among those inmates who wanted to run out of the prison.
“We are calling the international community to provide medical experts to examine the health condition of Kanu because the teargas thrown into his cell room was a poisoned one.”