At Least Eight Killed In ‘Terrible’ Prison Fire Amid Iran Protests

This image obtained from the Iranian news agency IRNA on October 16, 2022, shows a fire truck in front of the Evin prison, in the northwest of the Iranian capital Tehran.

 

Eight Iranian inmates were killed in a fire that raged through Tehran’s Evin prison, the judiciary said Monday, doubling the official toll from the blaze that further stoked tensions one month into protests sparked by the death of Mahsa Amini.

Authorities in the Islamic republic have blamed the fire late Saturday on “riots and clashes” among prisoners, but human rights groups said they doubted the official version of events and also feared the real toll could be even higher.

The judiciary authority’s website Mizan Online said Monday that four Evin prison inmates injured in the fire had died in hospital, after reporting the previous day an initial toll of four dead from smoke inhalation.


READ ALSO: Iran Accuses Biden Of ‘Inciting Chaos’ During Protests


Gunshots and explosions were heard during the dramatic blaze from inside the complex, according to social media footage, while state media broadcast images of the aftermath with areas gutted by the flames.

Iranian authorities have accused “thugs” of torching a prison clothing depot and reported clashes between prisoners, and then between inmates and guards who intervened to put an end to the violence.

Hundreds of the protesters arrested in recent weeks have been sent to Evin, infamous for the ill-treatment of political prisoners, which also holds foreign detainees and thousands jailed on criminal charges.

The official IRNA news agency, citing a Tehran prosecutor, said the clashes had “nothing to do with the recent unrest”, while Mizan said that all those who died had been convicted of robbery.

But Oslo-based group Iran Human Rights (IHR) said it “rejects” the official account, given the “long history of concealing facts” in the Islamic republic.

It said it had “received reports that special forces were deployed to incite prisoners and set the grounds for a crackdown” and called for a UN-backed international investigation to establish the facts.

‘Big distress’

The fire came after four weeks of protests over the death of 22-year-old Amini, following her arrest for allegedly violating Iran’s strict dress code for women.

The wave of demonstrations has turned into a major anti-government movement, confronting Iran’s clerical leadership with one of its biggest challenges since the ousting of the shah in 1979.

At least 122 people have been killed in the crackdown on the Amini protests, and at least 93 more died in separate clashes in Zahedan, Sistan-Baluchestan province, according to an updated toll published by IHR.

More protests were held Sunday, including at the Tehran and Shariati universities where women chanted “we are all Mahsa!”

There were more overnight rallies including in the capital’s Ekbatan district where residents shouted “death to the dictator!”, social media footage showed.

Iranian rights activist Atena Daemi, herself a long-time inmate of Evin, wrote on Twitter that in the early hours of Sunday several buses and ambulances were seen leaving the facility.

She said some prisoners in Ward 8, which houses political detainees, had been transferred to another jail.

Activists noted further confusion when state television announced Sunday that 40 people had been killed in the prison, only to correct this back to the initial toll of four just minutes later.

Evin prison holds foreigners such as French-Iranian academic Fariba Adelkhah and US citizen Siamak Namazi, whose family said he was taken back into custody days ago after a temporary release. Namazi’s US attorney Jared Genser said he had spoken to his family, and that he was unharmed.

Supporters of Austrian prisoner Massud Mossaheb said he was suffering after inhaling smoke and tear gas, writing on Twitter that “he can barely speak… He is in big distress”.

‘Appalled by conditions’

Freedom of expression activist Hossein Ronaghi called his mother from Evin, where he has been held since last month, and “could hardly speak and could only say a few words,” his brother Hassan wrote on Twitter.

His family says he has suffered ill-treatment in custody and has fractured both legs.

“We are appalled by the conditions activist Hossein Ronaghi is subjected to and must be freed. He has been dealing with torture, a hunger strike and Evin’s fire,” said campaign group Article 19.

Prominent Iranian lawyer Saeid Dehghan wrote on Twitter that a total of 19 lawyers who had been working to defend those arrested had themselves been detained.

European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said the bloc expected “maximum transparency on the situation” at Evin.

The EU has agreed to level new sanctions, expected to be endorsed by its foreign ministers Monday.

Diplomats told AFP that the sanctions list, agreed by EU ambassadors ahead of the ministers’ meeting, contains 11 Iranian officials and four entities. They will be subject to EU visa bans and asset freezes.

Among those to be targeted is “the so-called morality police,” German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said.

“When you see these terrible pictures of the fire in the prison, when you see that peaceful people, women, men and, increasingly, young people and schoolchildren continue to be brutally beaten then we cannot and will not close our eyes to this.”

Kuje Prison Attack: Buhari Presides Over National Security Council Meeting

 

President Muhammadu Buhari is currently holding a closed-door meeting with service chiefs and some members of his cabinet at the State House in Abuja.

While it is unclear what the agenda for the meeting is, many believe it is not unconnected to Tuesday’s attack on the Kuje Correctional facility and other security breaches experienced in recent times.

At the meeting today are the Chief of Defence Staff, General Lucky Irabor; Army Staff, Lt. Gen Farouk Yahaya; Air Staff, Air Marshall Isiaka Amao, Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Awwal Gambo and the Inspector-General of Police, Usman Baba.

Cabinet members in attendance include the Ministers of interior, Rauf Aregbesola, Police Affairs, Mohammed Dingyadi, Defense, Maj. Gen. Bashir Magashi and Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami.


READ ALSO: Kuje Prison Attack: FG Declares Fleeing Boko Haram Suspects Wanted, Releases Photos


Following the attack on the Correctional Facility in Kuje, President Buhari expressed disappointment at the nation’s intelligence system.

Speaking after his visit to the Medium Security Custodial Centre, the president said, “I am disappointed with the intelligence system.

“How can terrorists organise, have weapons, attack a security installation and get away with it?” the president questioned.

Buhari, who, like most Nigerians was shocked by both the scale and audacity of the attack queried: “How did the defences at the prison fail to prevent the attack?

“How many inmates were in the facility? How many of them can you account for? How many personnel did you have on duty? How many of them were armed? Were there guards on the watchtower? What did they do? Does the CCTV work?”.

The president who was accompanied by Boss Mustapha, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Professor Ibrahim Gambari, the Chief of Staff, said that at the end of the visit, he was expecting “a comprehensive report” on the incident.

Terrorism: APC Complicit In Kuje Prison Attack, PDP Asserts

The scene of the Kuje Correctional Centre Abuja where terrorists attacked the facility on July 5, 2022.

 

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has condemned the spate of insecurity and the audacity with which terrorists ravage the country unchallenged, under what the party terms a “rudderless” All Progressives Congress (APC) administration.

According to the opposition party,  the simultaneous terrorist attacks on the advance convoy of President Muhammadu Buhari in Katsina State as well as the Correctional Facility in Abuja, the nation’s capital, underscores the collapse of the nation’s security command and control structure.

In the PDP’s opinion, the failure of the APC to tame the violence and secure the citizens only adds to affirming assertions that the ruling party is complicit in the matter.

PDP Spokesman, Hon. Debo Ologunagba, in  a statement on Wednesday noted that the terrorist attack on President Buhari’s convoy in his home State of Katsina as well as the “ferocious invasion and the freeing of hundreds of terrorists and criminals from the Kuje Correctional Facility further confirm that Mr. President has lost control of the security of the nation and that Nigerians are no longer safe under the APC”.


READ ALSO: ISWAP Claims Responsibility For Kuje Prison Attack


According to him, “the escalated spate of terrorism across the country has heightened apprehensions of complicity by the APC to open up our nation to more terrorist attacks with the view to stall the 2023 general elections.

“The failure of the APC administration to act on the intelligence provided by the Directorate of State Services (DSS) which on Tuesday July 5, 2022 reportedly warned of an impending attack on the Kuje Correctional Facility gives credence to fears by Nigerians of complicity at very high level of the APC administration.

“This is in addition to further reports that soldiers deployed to the precinct of the Kuje Correctional Facility and who had become familiar with the terrain were redeployed 24 hours before the terrorists attacked”.

The PDP through its spokesman demanded that the APC government should come clean on who ordered the reported redeployment of soldiers and who failed to act on the intelligence provided by the DSS.

“Nigerians can recall the public confession by the Kaduna State Governor, Mallam Nasir el-Rufai at the wake of the bloody Abuja-Kaduna terrorist attack that the APC-led administration knows the whereabouts and the plans of the terrorists ravaging our nation but deliberately refused to act.

“Nigerians will also recall how APC leaders publicly romanced and paid money to terrorists.

“It is rather distressing that President Buhari appears helpless without any decisive and concrete steps taken to stem the tide of terrorist attacks in our country.

“Even more curious is that President Buhari continues to retain Mr. Isa Pantami as Minister of Communication and Digital Economy to head and coordinate this very critical sector in the fight against terrorism in our country in spite of Isa Pantami’s confession of affiliation to terrorists.

“With the sequence of events in the last 48 hours, it is clear to Nigerians that the APC government headed by President Buhari has failed in the basic purpose of government which is to secure life and properties of the citizens,” the PDP argued.

The party also stated that given the urgency of the security situation in the country, it has become imperative that President Buhari convenes an emergency Council of State meeting for a review of the prevailing dangerous security atmosphere in our country.

The PDP further called on the National Assembly to pass a vote of no confidence in Isa Patimi and insist on his immediate removal as a minister.

“The National Assembly should also immediately summon the Security Chiefs for a thorough investigation on the circumstances resulting in the failure of our security system,” the opposition party demanded.

The PDP urged Nigerians to remain at alert and keep hopes alive, adding that the nightmare of the APC administration will be over by May 2023.

Kuje Prison Attack: 7 Things We Know So Far

 

Late on Tuesday night, there was a terrifying attack on the Kuje Correctional Centre.

The assault which involved the use of explosives and guns, left many within the area perplexed and scared.

As at the early hours on Wednesday, it was still not clear what had transpired, however, the authorities and witnesses have been dishing out information regarding the attack which again has left many Nigerians questioning what really is going on in the country.

Having continued to diligently follow the breaking story and emerging new developments, we bring you seven major things which we have learnt so far.

1. Five killed

Speaking on the incident, the Nigerian Correctional Service (NCoS) said a total of five persons were killed in the course of the attack. Chief Superintendent of Corrections, Umar Abubakar, disclosed in a statement on Wednesday that three inmates died in the chaos while the gunmen killed a personnel of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC).

2. 19 persons injured

As regards the number of those injured, Mr Abubakar said 16 inmates sustained various degree of injuries while, 3 NSCDC operatives also got seriously injured.

According to him, all are currently being treated.

 

3. Over 800 inmates escaped

Mr Abubakar also revealed that no less than 800 inmates escaped during the assault which saw vehicles burnt and parts of the facility destroyed.

He said a total of 879 inmates escaped from the facility, adding that “443 of the escapees have been recaptured while 551 inmates are currently in custody, and 443 inmates are still at large,” however, these figures do not seem to add up, especially in the light of the fact that the facility is said to have held only 994 inmates prior to the attack.

4. All 64 Boko Haram members in the facility, escaped

Following his own assessment of the incident, the Minister of Defence, Bashir Magashi, disclosed that all 64 Boko Haram Terrorists who were in custody of the correctional centre, fled the facility.

5. DCP Abba Kyari and other VIPs are safe

Contrary to reports suggesting that DCP Abba Kyari had escaped during the attack, the NCoS said the embattled police officer and other VIPs are hail and hearty and remain in their custody.

6. Explosives were used in the assault 

In its statement, the NCoS revealed that the attackers broke into the Medium Security Custodial Centre, Kuje using explosive devices through the main entrance and the fence of the facility respectively, it was in this attempt that a security personnel was killed.

7. Boko Haram suspected to be the orchestrators 

With the number of Boko Haram terrorists who escaped from the Kuje Prison during the attack on Tuesday night, the Minister of Defence, Bashir Magashi, said there are strong indications that it was the terrorists that invaded the facility to free their members being held in detention.

As at the time of filing this report, the insurgents had not claimed the attack as theirs, however, authorities say a full scale search is ongoing to recapture all those who have escaped.

 

Bolivian Ex-President Anez Sentenced To 10 Years In Prison

In this file photo taken on January 22, 2020 Bolivian interim President Jeanine Anez gives a speech during the celebration of Plurinational State day at Palacio Quemado, in La Paz. Bolivian ex-president Jeanine Anez was sentenced to 10 years in prison on June 10, 222 over an alleged plot to oust her rival and predecessor Evo Morales.
JORGE BERNAL / AFP

 

Bolivian ex-president Jeanine Anez was sentenced Friday to 10 years in prison, more than a year after her arrest for an alleged plot — dismissed as fictional by many — to oust her rival and predecessor Evo Morales.

Anez, who has been held in pre-trial detention since March 2021, has consistently denounced what she calls political persecution.

The former interim leader will serve 10 years in a women’s prison in La Paz, the administrative capital’s First Sentencing Court announced in a decision that comes three months after her trial began.

Convicted of crimes “contrary to the constitution and a dereliction of duties,” Anez was sentenced to “a punishment of 10 years” over accusations stemming from when she was a senator, before becoming president.

Prosecutors had asked for a 15-year jail sentence.

The former leader had already announced she would appeal if convicted, saying: “We will not stop there, we will go before the international justice system.”

Also sentenced to 10 years were the former head of the armed forces, William Kaliman, and the former head of the police, Yuri Calderon, both of whom are on the run.

Anez still faces a separate, pending court case for sedition and other charges related to her short presidential stint.

At the start of her presidency, Anez had called in the police and military to restore order. The post-election conflict caused 22 deaths, according to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR).

For that, Anez also faces genocide charges, which carry prison sentences of between 10 and 20 years.

‘Political Persecution’

Right-wing Anez became Bolivia’s interim president in November 2019 after Morales, who claimed to have won a fourth consecutive term as president, fled the country in the face of mass protests against alleged electoral fraud.

The Organization of American States (OAS) said at the time it had found clear evidence of voting irregularities in favor of Morales, who had been in power for 14 years.

Many potential successors to Morales — all members of his MAS party — also resigned and fled, leaving opposition member Anez, then vice-president of the Senate, next in line.

Virtually unknown, the lawyer and former television presenter proclaimed herself interim president of the Andean nation on November 12, 2019, two days after Morales’ resignation.

The Constitutional Court recognized Anez’s mandate as interim, caretaker president, but MAS members disputed her legitimacy.

Elections were held a year later, and won by Luis Arce — a Morales protege.

With the presidency and congress both firmly in MAS control, Morales returned to Bolivia in November 2020.

After handing over the presidential reins to Arce, Anez was arrested in March 2021, accused of irregularly assuming power.

The arrest occurred in the city of Trinidad, located in the country’s Beni department, where she was born and where she returned after her tenure in office.

“I denounce before Bolivia and the world that in an act of abuse and political persecution, the MAS government has ordered my arrest,” she said on Twitter at the time.

In detention, Anez would go on to carry out hunger strikes.

Shortly before the start of her trial in mid-February, she echoed the same sentiment, stating: “I assumed the presidency of Bolivia without asking for it, without seeking it and even less expecting it… with the sole mission of organizing elections and calming a country in crisis.”

According to one of Anez’s lawyers, Luis Guillen, the fact that multiple cases were being pursued against her at the same time violated the law.

He additionally maintained that the court that weighed in was not capable of deciding constitutional matters, and that the former president would need trying in congress.

The IACHR described the 22 deaths that occurred at the beginning of Anez’s tenure as “massacres,” and found they indicated “serious violations of human rights.”

Unlike the other accusations against Anez, the case will be dealt with by congress, which will decide whether or not to hold a trial.

From US Death-Row Cell, He Turns To Music For Salvation

This 2013 photo courtesy of Amy Gordiejew, shows death row inmate Keith LaMar at the Ohio State Penitentiary in Youngstown, Ohio.   (Photo by Amy Gordiejew / Amy Gordiejew / AFP) 

 

 

 

Music has helped Keith LaMar survive the mind-numbing sameness of nearly 30 years on death row in a maximum-security prison in the US state of Ohio.

Now he hopes his love and involvement in jazz — along with the intervention of musicians drawing public attention to his case — will help him escape execution for a murderous crime he insists he did not commit.

LaMar, who turns 53 on Tuesday, is accused of killing or ordering the killing of five fellow inmates during an 11-day prison riot in 1993.

His execution is already scheduled — for November 16, 2023.

LaMar said he has spent the past 30 years preparing himself psychologically, morally and legally for whatever comes next.

“So, if and when the time comes, and I am an unfortunate victim of the state … it won’t be because I didn’t try to do everything in my power to prevent that,” he told AFP by telephone.

During those decades behind bars, though, he has become a huge jazz buff.

“Music is a big part of my life,” he said.

He is particularly a fan of the music of John Coltrane, saying iconic albums like “A Love Supreme” have helped him cope with his anger and isolation.

The very first thing he does when he wakes up in the morning in a cell “the size of a closet” is to put on a CD, he said — that, and write.

– Jazz concert from behind bars –
LaMar pleaded guilty for the crime he was originally arrested for at 19: the murder of a childhood friend — an addict who had tried, at gunpoint, to steal drugs LaMar was selling.

He says he tried to turn his life around during the early years of his original 18-year sentence, completing a high-school equivalency degree before enrolling in university classes from his cell.

But he wants his case around the Lucasville Prison Riot to be reopened, contending that trial was gravely tainted by judicial irregularities.

In that regard LaMar is no longer alone. In addition to a team of lawyers working to reopen his case, several jazz musicians — including the Spaniard Albert Marques — have come together to demand “Justice for Keith LaMar” and raise awareness of his case.

Last weekend Marques’s group gave a concert at New York’s Jazz Gallery to celebrate release of the CD “Freedom First,” composed jointly by LaMar and Marques. Some of the proceeds will cover LaMar’s legal expenses.

During the concert, the firm but seductive voice of LaMar himself could often be heard over the speaker system.

Marques said LaMar, who wrote several of the song lyrics, narrating his life and commenting on his fate, “is part of the band and earns the same as the musicians.”

“The idea is not to play for Keith, it’s to play with Keith,” Marques told AFP.

But how could LaMar participate from a death-row cell hundreds of miles away?

“He can make calls from jail, for which he has to pay,” Marques said, adding with a touch of sarcasm that the guards “can’t prohibit something that they can’t imagine happening.”

Marques said the band wants to “raise awareness” about a case involving one of his “best friends,” whom he has visited in maximum-security Ohio State Penitentiary in Youngstown.

 

 Music has helped Keith LaMar get through day-to-day life for nearly 30 years on death row at the maximum-security prison. Now he’s hoping it will help him escape execution scheduled for November 16, 2023, for a crime he claims he didn’t commit. LaMar is blamed for murdering five of nine fellow inmates and one guard during a riot on April 11, 1993, by a group of Muslim prisoners who refused to submit to a tuberculosis test because the test serum contained alcohol. (Photo by Amy Gordiejew / Amy Gordiejew / AFP)

 

– ‘Meaningful, purposeful things’ –
LaMar says in his book “Condemned” — written in his cell, then dictated by phone to a friend — that he has been “trying, with all my might, to redeem myself.” And he explains his version of what happened during the riots, which changed his life forever.

According to LaMar, prosecutors wrongfully withheld interviews with 13 inmates who witnessed or took part in the riots; evidence was destroyed; and prosecutors failed to disclose information that might have proved his innocence.

Prosecutors and appeals court judges, however, have insisted LaMar’s guilt is proven.

“When you (are) poor, Black, and in a racist country, you plead guilty,” he said, referring to limited recourse he believes African Americans have in the justice system.

In a country which has seen stunning cases of wrongful conviction, “the truth can only set you free when you have enough money,” LaMar said.

But music can also deliver truth. Musician Marques has been “one of the blessings of my life,” LaMar says, and his last, best hope of drawing wider attention to his case.

Above all, he says, he has gained a “friend.”

“I’m trying to stay caught up with meaningful, purposeful things,” LaMar said, because that gives some sense to his life — and ensures those who believe in his innocence also “believe in me as a human being.”

Four Dead, 70 Injured In Bolivian University Stampede

A wounded inmate is transported from a truck to an ambulance after a riot, outside the Bella Vista prison in Santo Domingo de los Tsachilas, Ecuador, on May 9, 2022. Juan Carlos PEREZ / AFP

 

At least 43 inmates died on Monday in Ecuador’s latest grisly prison riot, the public prosecutor said.

Authorities said a fight broke out between the rival Los Lobos and R7 gangs inside the Bellavista prison in Santo Domingo de Los Colorados, in the center of Ecuador some 80 kilometers (50 miles) from Quito.

“For now there are 43 inmates dead,” said the public prosecutor’s office on Twitter, adding that the situation was “developing.”

The South American country’s prison authority SNAI said it has activated “security protocols” to contain the “disturbances to order.”

Interior minister Patricio Carrillo initially told reporters that two inmates had been killed before later increasing that figure to 41 in a press conference. The public prosecutor’s office then tweeted the latest death toll.

Carrillo had also claimed authorities were in control.

During the riot, at least 112 people tried to escape but were detained by security forces inside the prison grounds, said Carrillo.

Inmates with facial injuries were taken by truck and ambulance to medical facilities while family members of those incarcerated gathered at the prison looking for information, AFP reporters at the scene said.

Authorities have said they will carry out a search for weapons and transfer gang leaders to a different prison.

Prior to this one, around 350 inmates had been killed in five separate prison riots since February 2021.

Just last month, at least 20 inmates died inside the El Turi prison in Cuenca, southern Ecuador.

Ecuadoran President Guillermo Lasso insists the problem inside the facilities mirrors that outside, where drug gangs are vying for control of trafficking routes.

Those rivalries among inmates sometimes explode into violence, with some prisoners hacked to death or beheaded with machetes.

Even with greater investment in the prison system, the creation of a commission to pacify facilities and new policies such as the holding of the most dangerous prisoners at a single penitentiary, have not reduced the bloody violence.

Ecuador has also seen a rise in street crime and drug trafficking which the government has tried to tackle by declaring a state of emergency in the three worst-affected provinces: Guayas, Manabi and Esmeraldas.

The country seized a record 210 tons of drugs in 2021 and has already seized another 82 tons this year.

AFP

Moscow Bans 287 British Lawmakers From Russia Over Ukraine

In this file photo, Russian President Vladimir Putin chairs a meeting on the situation in the oil and gas sector at the Novo-Ogaryovo state residence outside Moscow, on April 14, 2022.  Mikhail Klimentyev / Sputnik / AFP

 

The Russian foreign ministry said Wednesday that it has banned entry to 287 British MPs after the UK blacklisted Russian lawmakers over Moscow’s military operation in Ukraine. 

“In response to the decision taken by the British government on March 11 to add 386 State Duma deputies to a sanctions list, in a reciprocal move, personal restrictions are being placed on 287 members of the House of Commons,” the ministry said in a statement.

It said that the MPs are barred from entering the country from now on. The House of Commons has a total of 650 members.

READ ALSORussia Cuts Gas Supplies To Poland, Bulgaria Over Ukraine

Moscow said the list is made up of MPs who have played “the most active part” in drawing up anti-Russian sanctions and contributed to “Russophobic hysteria”.

Among those blacklisted are Speaker Lindsay Hoyle as well as Cabinet members including Minister for Brexit Jacob Rees-Mogg and Environment Secretary George Eustice.

The list also includes Labour MPs, among them Diane Abbott, a close ally of former party leader Jeremy Corbyn.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said in parliament that those included in the list “should regard it as a badge of honour”.

“What we will do is keep up our robust and principled support for the Ukrainian people, and their right to protect their lives, their families, and to defend themselves.

“That is what this country is doing, and that has the overwhelming support, I think, of the whole House.”

Russia has already blacklisted Johnson as well as UK Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab, Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace and several others.

Russia’s foreign ministry on Wednesday also announced the expulsion of three Norwegian diplomats in a tit-for-tat measure after Oslo expelled three Russian diplomats earlier this month.

AFP

2023 Election: Senate Urges INEC To Allow Prison Inmates To Vote

A file photo of a correctional centre where inmates are serving various jail terms.

 

The Senate has urged the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to allow registered and eligible prison inmates to vote during all general elections in the country.

The Upper Chamber discussed this during plenary on Tuesday when it considered a motion on The prerogative of Prison Inmates to vote in general elections in Nigeria sponsored by Senator Abba Moro.

READ ALSO: Again, Women Storm NASS Demand Assent To All Gender Bills

They called on INEC to determine the status of the inmates that are constitutionally and legally qualified to be registered as eligible voters and should vote at elections.

They urged INEC and all relevant agencies to carry out a voracious voter’s enlightenment in prisons in Nigeria, to educate the inmates of their rights and necessity to exercise their franchise in general elections.

Also, according to the lawmakers, INEC register update its register of voters to take into account the prison population for the purpose of elections. INEC in collaboration with the Nigeria Correctional Service should also locate voting centres at custodial centres across the country to be used for voting.

The Senate further urged the INEC to allow duly registered and eligible prison-electorates to exercise their franchise during all general elections in Nigeria.

Why Every Politician, Civil Servant Should Go To Prison – Orji Kalu

 

Former Abia State Governor, Orji Uzor Kalu, believes it is necessary for politicians and civil servants in Nigeria to go to prison.

Kalu, a presidential aspirant and lawmaker representing Abia-North senatorial district, described the prison as a learning facility.

“I am not guilty, I am as free as anything,” he said on Friday during his appearance on Channels Television’s Politics Today where he responded to questions bordering on corruption allegations against him.

“They put me in prison to the glory of God and Nigerian people should thank them because I am better off today being there.

“I lost nothing, I went there to learn, it was a learning institution, and every politician and every civil servant needs to go there and learn; they will have another perspective of life.”

 

Blessing, Not Setback

A Federal High Court in Lagos had sentenced Kalu to 12 years imprisonment in a judgement delivered in December 2019.

But the judgment was later nullified by a seven-man panel of the Supreme Court in a unanimous verdict in May 2020.

READ ALSO: Tinubu Not A Threat To My 2023 Presidential Bid, Says Orji Kalu

Declaring the conviction of the former governor null and void, the apex court had held that Justice Mohammed Idris was already a justice of the Court of Appeal as of the time he delivered the judgment sentencing Kalu.

A file photo of former Abia State Governor, Orji Kalu.

 

Barely a month after, Justice Mohammed Liman of the Federal High Court sitting in Lagos ordered the release of Kalu from the Kuje Correctional Centre in Abuja.

During Friday’s interview, the lawmaker alleged that some persons, including a former president, were responsible for his predicaments.

Rather than being sad for going to prison, he stressed that his detention for about six months was a blessing to him and an opportunity to view life from a totally different perspective.

“The average Nigerian knows that I have committed no offence,” said Kalu who insisted that he is not corrupt. “There were 19 witnesses in court, and nobody mentioned my name, and somebody paid somebody to put me in jail for six months, and I thank God I went.

“It was a glorious thing; that is the best thing God has ever done to me, to be able to put me in the lowest end of the world. Mind you, I was meant to be in Wuhan on December 9, 2019, and the people put me in jail on December 5; it is to the glory of God.”

Prisoners Flee As Gunmen Attack DR Congo Prison

A file photo of a man carrying a gun.

 

Inmates have escaped en masse from a crowded old prison in the western Democratic Republic of Congo, officials said Sunday, with at least one guard reported killed.

Two armed men arrived at the entrance to Matadi prison, subdued the guards and opened the main gate, allowing a large number of prisoners to flee, the prison’s deputy director Apolonia Londo told local media.

Commissioner Jean-Pierre Nzolani said meanwhile that police officers around the prison witnessed inmates escaping from a breach in the walls.

“They (police) shot in the air, but more than 300 people came toward them, grabbed their weapons from them and killed a policeman,” Nzolani said.

Another officer was shot and seriously injured, he added.

“Was it an inside job, a plot prepared for a long time?” the commissioner added. “We are trying to figure it out.”

Longo said that the prison had held 737 prisoners on Saturday morning but a headcount was under way to determine how many escaped.

The central prison in Matadi, the main city in Kongo province, was built in 1939 and is supposed to house 150 inmates.

 

Jailbreak: Over 3,000 Inmates Still At Large, Says Aregbesola

 

The Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola, says there are over 3000 inmates still at large following jailbreaks in Nigeria within the last year.

Speaking at a media briefing organized by the Presidential Media Team at the State House in Abuja on Thursday, Aregbesola further disclosed that 4,860 inmates escaped from various custodial centers from 2020 till date, and out of this, 984 have been recaptured.

This leaves the country with about 3876 inmates out of custody.

According to Aregbesola, biometrics of all inmates in the country have been captured, and it is the hope of the Federal Government that this exercise will aid the tracking and rearrest of the escapees.

The former governor of Osun State stressed that the recent attacks on some correctional facilities in the country are a reflection of the insecurity in Nigeria.

READ ALSO: [Jailbreak] We’ll Recapture All Escaped Inmates – Aregbesola

He explained that the government is on the trail of some of the attackers with a couple of them arrested in Imo State. The minister assured Nigerians that a ministerial task force will soon be inaugurated to enforce the re-arrest of all escapees and their collaborators.

Aregbesola’s comments come a few weeks after gunmen attacked the Medium Security Custodial Centre in the Abolongo area of Oyo State with an unconfirmed number of inmates escaping from the facility.

A few hours after the siege, the Federal Government said operatives had recaptured some of the inmates.

The Interior Minister in his reaction to the incident assured Nigerians that “the Federal Government will pursue not just those who attacked our facility, but those who have escaped lawful custody”.