A rights group, Committee for the Defence of Human rights, Ebonyi State Branch, on Monday accused security officials of extra judicial killings at the Abakaliki Prisons.
While the Comptroller General of Prisons, Ja’afaru Ahmed, said six people were killed and ten others injured in the attempted “jailbreak”, others have said the casualty is much higher.
The Comptroller’s assertion, the rights group, CDHR said, is not a true reflection of the events that transpired during the incident.
The CDHR chairman, Emeka Anosike, said an independent preliminary investigation conducted by the group revealed that not less than 14 prison inmates were deliberately shot at and killed by a combined team of security agents, including the police mobile force drafted from the police headquarters Abakaliki and armed prison guards.
“Also about 16 others inmates were critically injured as a result of the gunshots they sustained from the attack by security agents”, the group said.
“Contrary to the prison official’s claims, what happened was a protest by the inmates against poor conditions they face in prison yard especially with poor food given to them and not any attempted jailbreak as alleged by the prison inmates”, the group said.
Mr. Anosike said contradictory statements from prison officials lent credence of a cover up of the true picture of what happened during the incident.
“The Ebonyi State Comptroller of prisons, Emily Oputa at a press conference at the prison yard denied that there was no casualty resulting from the incident and asked any person that has doubt to confirm from the Federal Teaching Hospital Abakaliki.
“However, there was a big twist to the above claim, when the Comptroller Ja’afaru Ahmed visited Ebonyi and confirmed to the Governor and reporters that actually six prison inmates died in the process”, he said.
The group rejected the 3-member panel of inquiry set up by the Comptroller General. It called on the federal government to urgently set up an independent panel of inquiry to investigate and make a report on the incident.
“The panel of inquiry set up by Ja’afaru to look into the matter is unacceptable to us because it is like being judge over one’s case. We want an independent judicial panel into the matter and not the prisons setting up panel.
“There will be lots of cover-up in the panel set up by the Comptroller General of Prisons but if it is a judicial panel of inquiry, witnesses will be called, some inmates who are alive will be called, the hospital authorities will be called and we will also be called to testify on what happened”, the group said.
It also called for the “immediate removal of Ebonyi State Comptroller of Prisons and Deputy Comptroller of Prisons in charge of Abakaliki prisons and all those involved in the unfortunate incident to allow for an unimpeded investigation of the matter.”
While demanding an improvement in the welfare conditions and food given to prison inmates to forestall similar occurrences in the future, the group called on the Federal Government to build new prison facilities to decongest the prisons nationwide.
It also urged government to “direct judicial officers to compel lawyers at various ministries of justice nationwide to give accelerated hearing to criminal cases in the various courts.”
The group threatened to take the matter to court if its demands are not met.