Rauf Aregbesola, Minister of Interior, has directed security personnel to use maximum force on attackers targeting correctional centres in the country.
He gave the instruction on Friday in Abuja, while addressing the Squadron Commanders of the Nigeria Correctional Services (NCoS).
This comes after attacks on Nigerian custodial centres in recent times.
He said the custodial facilities is a symbol of the authority of Nigeria, adding that they are sacred and invaluable formations.
Aregbesola instructed the personnel to “guard and defend the facilities with your life.”
Reacting to the attacks, the minister said:
“It’s no longer a happenstance, they are now all coordinated attacks.
“I declare henceforth all our custodial centres red zones.
“You [arms personnel] have no excuse at all to allow our facilities attacked either within or from outside.
“You are empowered to use any means necessary to defend the custodial centres.
“You must use maximum force to hold your ground and prevent the violation of our custodial facilities and people within”.
The minister maintained that the instruction to use minimal force was no longer tenable in the present situation.
While charging the personnel to be vigilant, he stressed that most of the attacks on custodial centres were carried out with supports from some officers of the Nigerian Customs Service.
“It will be difficult or even impossible for a prison to be attacked without the cooperation of officers within,” he stressed.
He disclosed that an investigation is ongoing over the attack on the custodial centre in Owerri, Imo State, where close to 2,000 inmates were released by hoodlums who had attacked the centre.
“We will hold the personnel absolutely responsible for any attack on our custodial facilities going forward,” he added.