Bala Ngilari, the convicted former governor of Adamawa State who secured a controversial bail from a Yola High Court on Monday, has been released from prison. His release has, however, introduced a fresh controversy as the head of the Adamawa prisons, Peter Tenkwa, said he never authorized the release.
Mr. Tenkwa had on Monday said Mr. Ngilari would not be released until the court order, which was largely based on a ‘fraudulent’ letter by the prisons, was reviewed by the legal department of the prison authorities.
Mr. Tenkwa’s subordinates, however, went behind him to release the former governor, the official told journalists on Wednesday.
The Nigerian Prisons Service, NPS, has therefore suspended two prison officials involved in the controversy.
Mr. Tenkwa, who is the Adamawa State Controller of Prisons, told journalists in Yola on Wednesday that the senior officer in charge of Yola prison, Abubakar Abaka, and the officer in charge of medical department of the prison, John Bukar, have been redeployed and suspended to allow investigation into the controversy.
Mr. Tenkwa said Mr. Abaka has been redeployed to Abuja, while Mr. Bukar was being detained in Jimeta Prison, with new officers already posted to take over from them.
“Based on the powers vested in the Controller of Prison in the Prison Act by S.84 under cap.366, I ordered the arrest and detention S.P John Bukar pending investigation of the charge framed against him.
“The production warrant from the court they claimed to have used in effecting their actions in Convict appellant bail saga connotes illicit deal because the same court that jailed Ngilari was the one that issued the production warrant for him to be taken to the court on that day, which is unprofessional and wrong,” he said.
The controller said the zonal coordinator in charge of NPS Zone C was already in the state and had commenced investigation of the development. He confirmed that Mr. Ngilari had been released.
“Reports available to me revealed that convict appellant was released from prison on Monday, defying the directive not to release him until specific orders after consulting our legal unit in the headquarters, Abuja,” Mr. Tenkwa said.
He said the service was committed to unveiling the forces behind what he said “smacks of collision and insubordination” involving the two prison officials.
Mr. Ngilari secured controversial bail weeks after he was convicted by the court for illegal transactions while he was governor. He has since appealed his conviction but was supposed to be in prison pending the determination of his appeal.
He, however, approached the same high court with a letter from the suspended prison officials indicating the prison did not have adequate facilities to treat his health problem. Mr. Tenkwa has since said he never authorised such letter and the prison was well equipped to treat Mr. Ngilari. It was largely based on the letter that the former governor was granted bail.