Shake-up imminent in prisons after outcry against Kirikiri inmate using mobile phone

Illustrative photos of inmates using mobile phones in cells

By Oluwafemi Popoola

A major shake-up and restructuring are imminent at the Kirikiri Maximum Security Prison, Lagos State, following Nigerians’ outcry concerning a certain inmate alleged to be in illegal possession of a mobile phone that was linked to an attempt on the life of one of the daughters of Nigeria’s Vice President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo, SAN.

As gathered, the operatives of the Department of State Services (DSS$, have arrested the culprit described as “a slim young man” after a major operation at the Kirikiri prison in Apapa, Lagos in a 72-hour surveillance operation.

Furthermore, reports had it that the DSS operatives who arrived at the premises of the prison on Sunday, 12 March 2023, only completed their mission after a 72-hour presence as they put both the staff and visitors at Kirikiri prison before entry and at the exit.

Kiki, who is the VP’s second daughter, a successful entrepreneur, was said to be the target of this yet-to-be-identified inmate, who as gathered is in the custody of the DSS, though was yet to issue a release over the incident, but feelers had it that he was being held over “a serious threat to life” scandal.

Recall, on Tuesday, March 14, 2023, it was reported that the Department of State Services (DSS) had deployed its operatives to the Kirikiri Maximum Security Prison in Lagos to trail a suspected prison inmate who had earlier issued a “serious threat” on the life of VP Osinbajo’s daughter.

Reacting to the development following the viral report of the threat, many Nigerians on social media were critical of the prison authorities wondering how they could be “negligent” by putting Nigerians’ lives at risk, letting criminals gain access to mobile phones inside the prison cell to the extent of threatening the life of the daughter of the country’s number-two man, Vice President Osinbajo and other peoples’ lives

The concerned Nigerians raised questions on how an inmate would have access to a mobile phone in prison, such as sophisticated ones that could even be tracked by security agents.

Consequent upon the development, there are indications that a major shake-up is expected in Nigerian prisons following the arrest of the culprit in Kirikiri.

ALSO READ: Nigerians wonder how Kirikiri inmate got phone to threaten innocent people

“What happened will most likely result in the transfer of some personnel out of Kirikiri,” a prison officer was reportedly quoted.

The changes, it was learnt, will not only affect the movement of top prison authorities in the facility but will also involve some structural reorganisation across the prison formations nationwide.

This, as gathered was premised on the need to purge out officers believed to have aided some prison inmates having in possessions of sim cards, undeclared cash, phones and other prohibited items found.

It was gathered that the authorities of the Nigerian Correctional Service,(NCoS), in Abuja, had also dispatched a special team to the prison earlier on and the team was said to have thoroughly combed different cells for hours before confiscating those items.

The DSS who tracked the inmate via his phone to the prison facilities had mounted surveillance within the Kitikiri Prison’s premises beginning from Sunday, March 12, 2023, in a 72-hour operation that saw them scrutinising the staff and visitors before gaining entry.

Information also had it that there was a standby Communication Command Vehicle which routinely paraded the prison’s premises, with other armed men of the DSS, taking surveillance around the prison’s environs in standby for any eventuality that may arise in their search for the culpable inmate.

It was said that after a series of intelligence gatherings, which also led to the tracing to the house of the inmate’s parents, his father was questioned, and the culprit was later arrested.

Knowing the danger at hand, it was said was why the NCoS in Abuja, also issued an alert to its staff for security beef-up and dispatched a special team to the prison on Thursday, March 16, 2023, in search of the erring inmate.

Information had it Kirikiri Maximum Correctional Centre with a 1,006-inmate capacity, at present has 2,100 inmates, while the Kirikiri Medium, built for 5,930 inmates, has fewer prisoners, while Kirikiri Female hosts around 200 inmates.

In most jurisdictions, prison inmates are forbidden from possessing mobile phones due to their ability to communicate with the outside world and other security issues.

As earlier reported, Nigerians have raised questions on how a prison inmate could have access to a phone, asking if it could be that was how inmates coordinated the last Kuje Prison jailbreak that led to the escape of hardened criminals and the death of others.

They also asked whether the Kuje prison attack was coordinated by some inmates who may have been in possession of cell phones.

Reacting to the story on social media, many took to their Twitter handles responding to the viral news and expressed their worry on the development wondering how some prison inmates got access to mobile phones to the extent of having the temerity to threaten the daughter of Vice President Osinbajo.

Below are some of the comments

“The prison authorities must be firm in enforcing that no inmates should be found with mobile phones. How can an inmate have access to phones in a Nigerian prison to the extent of threatening people’s lives? Very unfortunate.”

“May God have mercy on us in this country, how could an inmate still be threatening the country? The question is how do they have access to phones in the first place?”

“The prison authorities are culpable. I rem similar thing occur during the 2016 Kuje prison riot when it was said that the inmates resisted some warders who were on a search raid for prohibited items but later discovered that the items were brought in by some warders after being tipped”

“What is going on in our prison system? This is becoming embarrassing. I think FG needs to seriously hold the prison authorities accountable. first series of jailbreak and this.”

Recall that investigations confirmed that the 2016 Kuje prison riot was instigated by convicts, who refused to allow warders to carry out a search on their cells for prohibited items.

It was later gathered that during the search, 25 mobile phones were recovered from a suspected Boko Haram inmate while some substances suspected to be cannabis were also uncovered in some cells and confiscated.