Some warders of the Nigerian Prisons Service, attached to the Ibara Prison in Abeokuta, Ogun State, are currently being interrogated for allegedly plotting with some convicted inmates to perpetrate different crimes, including defrauding members of the public and escaping from the correctional facility.
Our correspondent gathered that some condemned robbery inmates had, in connivance with the warders, allegedly contributed about N15m for the planned jailbreak.
It was learnt that the plot was on when the police uncovered it.
Sources told PUNCH Metro that two senior prison officers had been arrested in connection with the incident.
The officers, were said to be undergoing interrogation.
Our correspondent further learnt that about N600,000 and some documents had been recovered from the suspects by the police.
A source said the suspects were taken away by officers of the Zonal Intervention Squad, Obada Oko, Abeokuta.
He said, “The whole thing started after the police got a series of complaints of fraud from some members of the public. The calls were traced to the prison. In the course of investigation, some prohibited items were discovered in the cells, including phones.
“The police went further in their investigation and discovered that there was actually a syndicate in the prison and some warders were involved. This was what led to the discovery of the planned jailbreak by the condemned inmates.”
Another source identified some of the inmates allegedly involved in the plot as Olatunji Adeleke and Oladele Ilesanmi.
The source said, “The police discovered that the officers connived with the inmates to plan the jailbreak by securing phones and laptops for them. “They also discovered that about N15m was earmarked for the jailbreak and they started planning it in October 2018.
“As I speak to you, about N600,000 has been recovered from the suspects, including some vital documents. From interrogation, it appeared that some women were also involved in the scheme.”
Our correspondent was told that the process of defrauding people from the prison yard was called ‘money in the air.’
“Three of their female victims are Eniola Afolayan, who lives in Igbogbo, Ikorodu; one Omolola and one Adunni, who also live in Lagos,” a police source added.
However, a warder said the officers were arrested by the ZIS after the wife of a convicted inmate complained of extortion.
He noted that the officers were then handed over to the police for interrogation.
Further investigation by our correspondent revealed that the inmates and warders at the prison usually go out together to collect money from banks under a sharing formula.
A few inmates were alleged to have used the opportunity to escape without a trace.
In October 2016, an inmate in the prison, identified as Teslim Babalola, was reported to have escaped after being taken to a bank by two warders.
A source said no one in the prison was punished for the incident, which was covered up with the connivance of the principal officers at the Nigerian Prisons Service headquarters in Abuja.
The spokesperson for the NPS, Ogun State, Victor Oyeleke, denied the report of extortion and the planned jailbreak.
He said, “I have gone round and asked questions. Based on my findings, there is nothing like that happening in the yard. Like I told you, you were the one who informed me about it. “From my findings, nobody is helping any inmate to escape. And it cannot happen in our prisons.
“All our officers are well trained and nobody can aid anyone to escape. The two officers you mentioned their names are senior officers and they know the repercussion of such a thing. So, there is no way they will do it.”
After insisting that no officer of the prison was arrested by the police, the spokesperson called back to say the two officers honoured a police invitation for “intelligence sharing.”
Oyeleke, who confirmed the 2016 escape, said the suspect was later re-arrested and was being held in another prison facility.
The Public Relations Officer, Nigerian Prisons Service, Francis Enobore, said he had yet to be briefed about the incident.
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He asked our correspondent to rely on Oyeleke’s response.
The Police Public Relations Officer, Zone 2, CSP Dolapo Badmos, said she had a report that two prison officers were being interrogated.
“There is a report that we are investigating. Two prisons officers are being interrogated over it. We will get back at the end of investigation,” she said in a text message.