Officials of Kuje Prisons were, on Thursday night, thrown panic for over one hour after it was discovered that Mr. Charles Okah, a leader of the Movement for the Emancipation of Niger Delta (MEND), could not be found in his cell by warders on the night shift at about 8 pm.
The situation led to a frantic search.
While prison officials were searching in panic, Okah was lying under his bed and had propped a dummy on his bed.
The MEND leader was said to have taken the action because of prison officials' refusal to take him to the National Hospital, Abuja, where he was scheduled to run a battery of medical tests.
Prison sources told SaharaReporters that the Comptroller of Prisons, Federal Capital Territory Command, Mr. Sylvester Nwakuche, received a text message from the Directorate State Security (DSS) informing him that a man that looks like Mr. Okah was sighted boarding a vehicle at Gwagwalada area of the Federal Capital City.
The Comptroller contacted the Officer in Charge of Kuje Prison to confirm if Mr. Okah was still in custody.
The Officer in Charge and many other officers rushed to Mr. Okah's cell (Number 6), where they were relieved to see a man sleeping and left to report to the Comptroller. They, however, did not ascertain if it was the MEND leader that was sleeping.
Not satisfied, the Comptroller asked them to return to the cell, where they discovered that sleeping figure they assumed to be Mr. Okah was a dummy in a sleeping position.
They also found a note from Mr.Okah, which he addressed to the Comptroller-General of the Nigeria Prisons Service.
Charles Okah's dummy at Kuje prison
Charles Okah's note
The officials read the note, which led to further panic as they were reminded of their colleagues, who lost their jobs as a result of a previous jailbreak in which
Mr. Okah's name was mentioned.
Mr. Okah later emerged from under the bed to chide them for responding promptly to news of an escape but were reluctant to take him to hospital.
Before Friday night's drama, Mr. Okah, who has previously stated that he donated a kidney to his mother 35 years ago, had complained that the Kuje Prison authorities were treating complaints about his health with levity.
He had reportedly complained of passing blood in his urine, a complaint to which the prison authorities did not respond until after five months when they took him to the National Hospital Abuja eight weeks ago.
After that visit, during which he was Okah was reportedly advised to run a series of tests by one Dr. Badamasi, he’s not been taken back to the hospital to run the tests even after complaining that his health was deteriorating.
The prison physician, Dr. Osakwe, said he had applied to the authorities in vain to make arrangements for transportation and security to convey him and others to referral hospitals.
Mr. Okah, who is detained for allegedly masterminding the 1 October 2010 bombing in Abuja, has just one more adjourned date of January 24, 2018, for Adoption of written address before a date for judgement is set for his trial which has lasted years while he remained in detention.