The Nigeria Correctional Service has reversed its earlier position by admitting inmates of its facility in Kaduna died during a protest on Tuesday.
The admission came after PREMIUM TIMES exclusively reported that five inmates were killed during the fracas.
The correctional service however said four inmates died, despite earlier claiming no inmate died.
It, however, did not give the details of the victims. Instead, the centre’s management said all four victims were condemned inmates.
But a civil society organisation, Lygel Youths and Leadership Initiative, has challenged the authorities to release the details of the dead victims, insisting that they were still being economical with the truth.
PREMIUM TIMES had earlier on Saturday reported how the officials of the custodial centre and the leadership of the Nigeria Correctional Service had tried hard to sweep the matter under the carpet by insisting that no one died from the incident.
On Tuesday when the crisis broke out, the authorities at both the centre in Kaduna and the service’s headquarters in Abuja had insisted that only two of its officers were injured and that no fatality was recorded.
However, on Friday, when confronted with the details of inmates reportedly killed by security operatives, the deputy controller of the custodial centre in Kaduna, Ahmed Usman, asked our reporter for the details of his source.
Later, the spokesperson for the service, Austin Njoku, told PREMIUM TIMES by phone that 16 personnel of the service had suffered various degrees of injuries. He insisted that as of Friday, there was no death recorded.
According to Mr. Njoku, the controller general had set up a committee to investigate the matter but that as at Friday, the report was yet to be submitted.
NIS makes U-turn
Apparently following a comprehensive report on the incident published by PREMIUM TIMES on Saturday, the authorities at the custodial centre made a U-turn, announcing the death of four inmates.
A statement issued on Saturday evening and signed by the controller of corrections, Kaduna State command, Sanusi Danmusa, said its attention had been drawn to malicious publications “by a section of the media.”
Mr Danmusa said the command had earlier issued a release to inform the public of the attempted jail-break on Tuesday.
The statement reads; “This release is necessary to assure the public that the COMMAND and indeed the Service are not trying to hide any fact as purported by a section of the press, especially when life is involved. Four inmates later died in the hospital from the injuries sustained in the melee that ensued while being restrained by the custodial officers from breaking jail. For the avoidance of doubt, all the deceased inmates were from the condemned section of the Custodial Centre where the jail-break occurred.
“A comprehensive investigation has commenced on the directive of the controller general of the Nigeria correctional service, Alhaji Jafaru Ahmed.”
Release victims’ details –CSO insists
Meanwhile, the executive director of LYLI, Lekan Oladapo, has insisted that the correctional centre has not told the whole truth, noting that the information released so far is as a result of public outcry over the incident.
Speaking with PREMIUM TIMES, Mr Oladapo challenged the NCS to provide the details of the victims.
He said; “The authorities need to controvert the claim that the other dead inmates were awaiting trial. The statement it issued is simply an afterthought and an attempt to save face and without any substance.
“Why did it take them that long to reveal that inmates died? Why were they quick to claim their people suffered injury? It is all against logic.”