Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, yesterday confirmed the death of five inmates and hospitalisation of another seven in the electrocution that occurred at the Ikoyi Prison, a major correctional facility in Lagos.
The inmates were said to have been electrocuted in their cells following a power surge at about 7am yesterday.
Aregbesola, who visited the facility for an on the spot assessment, declined to name the victims, saying their families had yet to be notified.
The minister said he would probe the incident and that a coroner’s report would confirm the exact cause of the incident.
He commiserated with the families and pledged to work towards averting a similar incident in future.
He said: “The government of the federation deeply regrets the unfortunate incident. It happened this morning at about 7am.
“I have gone round to see the cell where this incident occurred and I want to express to Nigerians the deep sympathy of the Federal Government and all of us about the circumstances of the accident that led to some loss of lives in one of the cells.
“I’m going to put together a team that will go into the root of how the accident occurred with a view to ensuring that no such thing happens again.
“This is quite sad, distressing and disturbing. We pray for the repose of the soul of the deceased. We equally pray that God will give the families that are bereaved the fortitude to bear the loss.
“The victims’ identities could be publicised after their families were notified.
“We are yet to inform the families of the deceased but that will be done, before we release the name of the victims.
“The law recommends in this instance a coroner’s inquest which will reveal what the exact cause of the deaths were, but beyond that, we will look into everything about it, the circumstances, the how, why, and generally cause of this.”
He added that President Muhammadu Buhari was “quite disturbed” about the incident and that “it is highly regretted.”
Controller-General of Corrections Ja’afaru Ahmed collaborated the minister on the incident
He said the facility was overcrowded but that he could not speculate as to whether overcrowding was a reason for the accident or not.
Ahmed said: “Our primary responsibility is safe, secure humane custody. That’s why I’ve been doing over the years but incidents do happen even in our homes. It is here that generates a lot of controversy or interest because it happened in a government facility; there’s always that perception. But these are incidents that always happen even in the living house.
“There was actually an electricity surge, the cause of which we don’t know yet because we still have to investigate and investigation will reveal the when, how and why it happened. As I speak to you, we have five people inmates dead and seven are hospitalized. I gave you this number because I want to avoid speculation and everybody knows that there is overcrowding in this facility.
“This facility was established in1955 for just 800 inmates but it is locking 3113 and out of this number 2680 are waiting trial, so it’s just barely about 400 plus that are convicted felons, which the correctional or custodial centre needs because we need convicts not awaiting trial persons. We have other facilities where we can move these people to if they had been convicted.”
The particular cell where the disaster occurred has capacity for 35 but locked 140 inmates.
Recently, the wall of a correctional centre in Kogi State was pulled down by flood, leading to the escape of dozens of inmates. Some inmates also sustained injuries.