A massive clamp down on inmates suspected to be members of the Prisoners Against Injustice in Nigeria (PAIN), yesterday went into effect at the Kuje Prison in Abuja following last Friday’s fire at the facility.
As part of it, the authorities are conducting searches, solitary confinement and interrogation of several inmates, including Charles Okah, who is suspected to be the PAIN leader because of his constant confrontation with the Prisons Service over human rights violations and corruption issues.
Before the fire attack on Friday, July 21, Okah had challenged safety lapses at the prison, including overcrowding and the absence of fire extinguishers and vehicular access to most buildings inside the yard for use during an emergency.
During the Friday fire, a hole had to be made in the perimeter fence to enable the hose from the Federal Fire Service truck to reach the inferno.
Stanley Osuji, a co-defendant of Samuel Mba, who died as a result of negligence and lack of money to buy medicine, was in the early hours of Saturday, July 22, raided by a combined team of regular warders and the armed squad unit. He was accused of filming the video clip of the fire and posting it on the Internet.
Stanley was taken below an old mango tree where his ankles were cuffed in leg irons, the chain passed underneath a protruding root to immobilize him to one spot and position. He was denied water and food for the entire period. At about 6pm, his hands were cuffed behind his back before he was bludgeoned with batons to admit taking the video and being a member of PAIN.
The prison authorities were displeased that the video released by SaharaReporters contradicted the version of the incident put out to the media by the spokesman of the Nigeria Prison Service.
Meanwhile, PAIN released another statement which was posted surreptitiously on a wall near the kitchen of the facility in the same unique handwriting of the July 21 statement.
To prove that the fire did not result from an electrical short circuit as claimed by the NPS, the group gave details of what had happened.
In its account, PAIN said, "A small improvised incendiary explosive device was placed inside the store room adjacent to the scene of the last fire outbreak which we carried out on March 16 but didn't take responsibility for, because it was quickly put out with the efforts of some inmates."
It noted that the store room has no equipment or electrical wiring or sockets. Besides, electrical power to the entire building was disconnected and was still disconnected as of the time the attack.
Ify Ojukwu, the female nurse on duty, confirmed hearing a loud explosion before noticing smoke and fire from the store area.