International Diplomatic Consultant, Farouk Al-Wahab says harsh living conditions in African prisons are the cause of increased cases of attempted and successful prison escapes.
He noted that poor living conditions and poor quality of food amongst the many ordeals suffered by prisoners push them to take the risk of breaking out of jail.
“We have situations where people always want to break out of jail. Some have long sentences to serve but they feel life is nothing to them anymore and would rather break out of jail and wish they are killed other than stay in jail forever”, he shared.
According to him, the Nigerian jail system is the 4th worst on the continent. “In the Lagos Kirikiri jail, you’ll see prisoners putting their hands through holes just to get a good amount of oxygen. Why would someone in such a condition not take advantage to break out of jail if the opportunity presents itself? From where I stand, I am not surprised the Nigerian jailbreak happened”.
The expert admitted that prisons are not rehabilitation or correctional centers as popularly preached but “jails rather harden criminals because of the system”, he added.
“If these criminals stay in jails for 4 to 10 years, there is nothing to show they have undergone correction and will live good lives when integrated back into society. Because of the overcrowding, starvation and poor health conditions, prisoners will use any foul means possible to break out of jail”, he reiterated.
Nigerian authorities are still searching for at least 1,800 inmates who escaped this week during a prison break in southeastern Imo state
The incident, believed to be the biggest jailbreak in Nigerian history, happened Monday when gunmen used explosives to blast open the gates and other parts of the Owerri correctional facility. Prison authorities say 1,844 inmates escaped. Only six have returned voluntarily.
There’s been no claim of responsibility so far, but Nigerian police authorities have pinned the attack on the secessionist group known as the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) which has however denied the allegations.