August 9, 2013 – Kuje Prisons Inmates Protest Special Treatment Of Jailed Lebanese Terrorists
A serious protest broke out at the Kuje Prisons near Abuja on Thursday over alleged preferential treatment of three Lebanese inmates by officials of the facility.
The protest took place just as the Defence Headquarters said that over 1,000 suspected members of the Islamist militant group, Boko Haram, were in detention facilities in the country.
The Lebanese prisoners – Mustapha Fawaz, Abdallah Thahani and Talal Ahmed Rodo – believed to be members of an international terrorist group, Hezbollah, were said to have been allowed to use a particular area of the prison ground for the Eid-fitri prayers while other inmates, including Boko Haram suspects, were restricted to another place.
The Lebanese are standing trial at a Federal High Court, Abuja, for terrorism and illegal importation of firearms.
The protesting inmates destroyed some amenities, including water pipes, electric cables and cell windows.
A source told one of our correspondents that the angry inmates also splashed water on some of the prison officials who ran for their safety.
A Boko Haram inmate serving a life sentence was said to have fainted during the melee.
Our source said, “The tension was brought under control by the Deputy Comptroller-General in charge of Operations, Mr. Segun Bewaji, who attended to the convict that fainted. But the inmates in the single cells were restive and refused to be pacified by the DCG.”
The Lebanese suspects were moved to the prison on August 2, 2013 based on an application by their lawyer, Ahmed Raji(SAN), who claimed that they were no longer comfortable in the custody of the State Security Service.
The court had granted the application and the suspects were promptly transferred to Kuje Prisons.
When contacted, the Prisons Public Relations Officer, Ope Fatinikun, claimed that the protest had nothing to do with the Lebanese inmates.
He added that it was caused by two groups struggling to use a particular place for the Eid-fitri worship.
“I don’t want to give anybody names, but the incident was caused by two groups (of inmates) who wanted to use a particular place for their prayers; but the situation has been brought under control. We talked to them and they saw reason with us, “he said.
Also on Thursday, the Director of Defence Information, Brig.-Gen. Chris Olukolade said at a news conference in Abuja that “ over 1,000 of the Boko Haram insurgents were arrested in the process of engagement with weapons in their hands and they are being detained.”
He also said that some of the members of the sect had been killed in action.
He was silent on the casualty figure on the side of the Military Joint Task Force since emergency rule was declared in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states.
Olukolade, who justified the state of emergency in the three states, said the gains of the operations would be clear when viewed against the backdrop of the security situation in the states before the exercise.
He stated that no part of the country was under the control of the insurgents contrary to the situation that prompted President Goodluck Jonathan to declare emergency rule in the affected states.
The Defence spokesman said that a large quantity of arms and ammunition as well as raw materials for the production of Improvised Explosive Devices were recovered from the arrested inurgents.
He added that the drastic reduction in bombings outside Borno, Yobe and Adamawa was a clear reflection of the rate of success of the ongoing security operations in the three states.
Olukolade said that the few incidents and the attack on soft targets were meant to send a message that the insurgents were still around.
He said, “The level of success is predicated on the President’s directive to stop the incident. The rate of bombings outside the three states has reduced in drastic terms. You may still see skirmishes; but those are isolated cases to announce that they are still around.
“Before, these people took over government facilities and converted them to their use. Today, we can report that that has been completely reversed; there is no part of this country where terrorists have freedom of action.
“The special forces have also recovered large quantity of arms and ammunition from them in the Sambisa forest where they had their biggest operational base.”
Meanwhile, the Presidential Committee on Dialogue and Peaceful Resolution of the Security Challenges in the North has said it will intensify discussions with the Boko Haram Sect.
The Chairman of the committee and Minister of Special Duties and Inter-governmental Affairs, Alhaji Tanimu Turaki (SAN), gave the assurance in his Sallah message on Thursday in Abuja.
He said in a statement by his Special Assistant on Media, Mr. Okey Muogbo, that more insurgents were expected to accept the dialogue option.
Turaki said, “The business of ensuring that we have a more peaceful and secure society is our collective responsibility and I pray that God will guide and assist us in this Herculean task which my committee has been charged to bring to a successful end.”
According to him, members of the amnesty committee are aware of the enormous challenges in the dialogue process. He added that as patriotic Nigerians, “we are fully committed to discharging the duty of ensuring that peace returns to the North and by extension, to the whole country.”
He urged insurgent group members who had not yet accepted dialogue to use the occasion of the Sallah to “irrevocably accept the dialogue option offered by the Federal Government and come to the negotiating table to air their grievances and discuss a peaceful end to the crisis in the North.”
“The search for a permanent solution to the security challenges in the North requires the efforts and commitment of all Nigerians”, Turaki stated.
[Report by Fidelis Soriwei, Adelani Adepegba and Friday Olokor, PUNCH METRO ABUJA]