Several hardcore criminals escaped from the Pademba Road prisons in the afternoon hours of Sunday 5th December 2010 and the circumstances surrounding the escape remains a mystery.
The 19 confirmed escapees include a convict who was serving a jail term sentence of 60 years after being convicted of robbery with aggravation and others standing trials for various offences ranging from robbery with aggravation, conspiracy, house breaking and larceny, to possession of forged bank notes.
In what seems to be a well coordinated escape, the prisoners were spotted with pistols and gun shots were also allegedly fired by them. The prison officers on duty took to their heels when they saw the armed prisoners marching out of the prisons compound. This was because they were armless and cannot confront armed criminals.
I beg to defer from the assertion that what took place was a jailbreak. How can it be a jailbreak when there has been no evidence to show that the prisoners damaged any door or window to make their escape?
It has been learnt that the escape took place shortly after some three female visitors in a black jeep visited one of the criminals at the Pademba Road Prisons. This visit is considered as an illegal visit since Sunday is not among the two visiting days at the Pademba Road Prison. Why the officers in charge allowed such an illegal visit leaves much to be desired. Unconfirmed reports also have it that the visitors handed over a black plastic to one of the escapees and it is widely believed that the plastic posses the guns used by the escapees to pull out.
Eyewitnesses even allege that most of the escapees went into a jeep which speedily drove off to the central parts of Freetown.
This is a major security threat to the country. We are in the month of December full of festivities and a time at which Sierra Leoneans in the Diasporas come home to spend Christmas with their relatives. How safe are we in the midst of hardcore criminals? It will come as no surprise if armed robbery returns; an occurrence that forced President Koroma to institute MACPI sometimes early this year.
What a prison department that can allow 19 prisoners to escape without trace? Following this, the head of the prisons department was expected to do the honourable thing – resign his position – but he maintained the position until he was sacked.
Had it not been for the decision to relocate the war crimes convicts to Rwandan cells, all of the efforts and resources of the Special Court would have been useless and wasted. The convicts would have used Sunday’s incidence to make their escape from prison.
The location of the central prison is also a cause for concern to many Sierra Leoneans. Let us assume the prison officers were armed with guns when this incident took place and they decided to trace the criminals. It would have resulted to untold casualties of innocent citizens, especially those who were coming from church, since the prison is located in the densely populated area of Pademba Road.
Now that this has happened, the country’s security apparatus must do all in its powers to re-arrest these hardcore criminals and the prisons officers must be speedily investigated and brought to book.
We have suffered a lot in this country and cannot afford to go back to those dark days. We want positive answers. Who let the ‘dogs’ out???
© Copyright by Awareness Times
Newspaper in Freetown, Sierra Leone.