Major security breach

National, Normal

CORRECTIONAL Service Commissioner Richard Sikani admitted yesterday that there was a major security breach at maximum security unit (MSU) at Bomana yesterday, resulting in the escape of some of the nation’s most dangerous prisoners were let loose.
Mr Sikani also admitted that at the time of the escape, the MSU was seriously undermanned.
He said there should be 16 to 18 officers working on an eight-hour shift seven days a week, to ensure sufficient security.
Yesterday, only two warders were at the Bomana maximum security units when the prisoners were sprung.
He said the MSU should have four fully-armed guards manning four towers around the four corners of the prison block, four guards at the Charlie Board or the administrative area and eight guards inside the main compound.
Mr Sikani said this was the first time prisoners escaped in such a “highly suspicious” manner and the Correctional Service will be conducting its own investigations.
Another independent investigation will be carried out by the National Security Advisory Council.
He said it was impossible to escape the MSU by scaling the fence and the walls which was attempted only once by Peter Ivoro, a well-known criminal in 1963.
Mr Sikani said visitation to the MSU was normally granted by himself or the deputy commissioner (operations) or the courts.
“No one should gain entry until permission is granted by the Commissioner, the deputy commissioner or the courts in writing.
“This (yesterday) morning security has been breached,” Mr Sikani said.
The escape of the 12 prisoners raises more questions, some of which Mr Sikani could not provide answers for while talking to reporters yesterday.
Questions like how a woman, who went to the maximum security, was allowed in without being security searched for firearms; why the guards did not arm themselves when letting out a prisoner the woman had asked to see; and why there was a lapse of about an hour before the alarm was raised that all prisoners at the maximum security unit had escaped.
A full NSAC meeting will be held today when the chairman and the Chief Secretary arrive back from Lae to institute a separate investigation.
Mr Sikani said all the ports and airports are now under surveillance for the escapees.
He said mobile phones in the MSU cannot be used as the unit has a jamming device in place and in yesterday’s case a wireless phone was used to trick the guards.
He appealed to business houses to be extra careful as the high profile escapees are specialists in robberies.