A prison in Nigeria

There was no jailbreak in the old Keffi Prison in Nasarawa state on Thursday, but rather a protest by inmates for the right to smoke cigarette.

Mr Emmanuel Okoro, the Controller of the Nasarawa State Command of the Nigeria Correctional Service, on Thursday made the clarification, refuting reports of a jailbreak.

Okoro said what happened at the prison was a reaction by some prisoners who were not allowed to smoke cigarettes within the prison yard.

The controller explained that the inmates were refused access to cigarettes because it was against the regulation of the service.

“These inmates here are for us to correct them; we can not allow them indulge in habits that will further expose them to more harm within the prison yard,” he said.

Okoro said that he visited the facility after the incident. He said that the inmates became aggressive until officials were able to restrain them and bring the situation under control.

According to him, no inmate escaped or got injured during the altercation with officials of the service.

“I was there and I spoke to some of the inmates and they told me that they had no plans for a jailbreak and all they wanted was to smoke.

“So I informed them it was against regulations to allow smoking in the facility and they apologised.

“Let’s be clear on this, what they demanded to smoke was cigarettes not Indian hemp or any other hard drugs. As I speak to you, the situation is under control,” he said.

Okoro, however, said the command would constitute a committee to immediately investigate the matter with a view to coming up with recommendations on how to prevent such rebellion in future.

”We are setting up a committee to unravel the remote cause of the clash.

“In a week’s time, we will get a better picture of what really happened. But mark my words, what happened was not a jailbreak,” he insisted.

The Controller also expressed dismay with the speed at which some newsmen jumped to conclusion and reported unverifiable stories without contacting the appropriate authority first.

He, therefore, urged reporters to verify information before going to press.

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