The National, Tuesday, May 10, 2011
SOUTHERN Highlands Governor Anderson Agiru yesterday called for the immediate and unconditional surrender of prisoners who broke out of Bui-Iebi jail last week and for the return of firearms stolen from there.
Last week an armed gang stormed the jail taking 91 prisoners with them.
Nine of the escapees have since surrendered.
“The prisoners who escaped from lawful custody must return immediately and without condition,” he said.
“The escapees know they have broken the law. Being on the run is an exercise in futility. They do themselves, their families and relatives and the community no good. Justice demands that they return to custody and complete their time,” he said
“It is un-Southern Highlands-like to aid and abet criminals. My people are peace-loving and I urge everyone to cooperate in the return of these prisoners to the jail.”
Agiru said the weapons stolen from the armoury must be returned.
“There should be no conditions whatsoever attached to the return of these firearms. It is against the law to be in possession of law enforcement weapons,” he said.
Agiru described as negligible the number of warders reported to be on duty at the time of the jail break.
“It is silly to place only two guards on duty when you know you are holding hardcore criminals in the cells.
“The guard roster of the jail should be reviewed. One would expect no less than five guards on duty at any one time.”
Agiru said if there were issues affecting the performance of prison officers at the jail, the Correctional Services commissioner should look into it and “bring it to the attention of the national government immediately”.
He said any jail break represented a security risk that must be addressed without delay, especially in a province where a multi-billion kina project was being developed.