Ten days after they escaped from Akwa Ibom prison, 28 of the inmates are still on the run.

They had observed their Christmas in the prison, but were not ready to go into the new year still in captivity.

So, they carried out a plan they had perfected on December 27, 2017.

About 40 of them left the prison in broad daylight at about 11:45 a.m.

Addressing reporters at the prison in Ikot Ekpene on Friday, the Controller General of Nigeria Prisons Service (NPS), Mr Jaffaru Ahmed, said 28 of the inmates of Ikot Ekpene Prisons that escaped during jailbreak were still at large.

The controller general, who described the facilities in Ikot Ekpene Prisons as well fortified, attributed the jailbreak to lapses on the part of prison staff.

“They took on the lapses that they saw, perhaps they have been planning it for a very long time and actualised it on December 27, 2017, when they saw the opportunity.

“The 28 that are at large are very hardened criminals; some of them are kidnappers awaiting trials, some are facing capital offences and therefore it is something to worry,” Ahmed said.

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He fears that those still at large could deny members of the society peace.

Mr Ahmed assured Akwa Ibom people and the entire nation that the fleeing inmates would soon be recaptured to face their trials.

He added that any staff that may have contributed to the prisoner's escape would face the full wrath of the law.

The controller general debunked insinuations from some quarters that the jailbreak was due to infringement on the fundamental rights of the inmates.

He said: “These prisoners were not rioting because there was maladministration in the prison system, but they organised it in order to get freedom illegally. That is what actually happened.

“It was not that they were not being fed or given medical attention or not taken to court.

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“Any insinuation anywhere, I state that investigation I have here before me, that there was nothing than they took lapses on the part of staff and organised to escape".

The prison in Akwa Ibom has a capacity to house 1,568 prisoners, but a latest report of the National Bureau of Statistics says at least 1,852 prisoners were in prison as at 2016.

The report said that as at 2014, 80.02% of the inmates in the prison were on awaiting trial list. 

With these figures, one cannot help but wonder how many of the inmates are awaiting trial now and how they all find space to sleep.

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