Prisoner climbs mast…in protest of transfer

4 January 2011

Drama unfolded at the Kumasi Prison yesterday when a prisoner alleged to be protesting against his transfer to the Nsawam Medium Security Prison climbed the communication mast erected at the at the heart of the prison.

For over two hours, the prisoner remained glued to the top of the mast, refusing to accept he could harm himself, heightening fears among the public that he would commit suicide.

It took the arrival of officers from Ghana National Fire Service, accompanied by a fire engine, for the convict to be persuaded to come down from the mast.

Eyewitness accounts had it that moments after the convict had seen the fire engine, with registration number FS 60, he started descending, amid shouts from the crowd, who had gathered around the prison yard to watch the drama as it unfolded.

The prisoner, who was identified only as 2020 and is alleged to be serving a 20-year term, succeeded in holding a section of residents in Kumasi spellbound as he shouted at the top of his voice that he would not descend from top of the communication mast.

Prisoner officers were desperate as they tried to convince the prisoner to come down from the tall mast he had climbed but all attempts to get him to change his mind failed until the Fire Service officers arrived with the fire engine.

The transfer of a section of prisoners from the Kumasi Central Prison to the Nsawam Medium Security Prison was said to have started last week, much against the wish of some of the prisoners who had served more than five years in Kumasi.

According to a source close to the prison, prisoner, prisoners had served a number of years assumed an aura of authority and easily had their way against those who had just started their prison terms.

It indicated that transferring those who had served a number of years to new prisons across the country meant that the transferred prisoners would be regarded as newcomers at their new places of confinement, for which reason they would lose some of the privileges they had been enjoying at their former prisons.

Prison authorities refused to brief the media on how the prisoner managed to climb the mast in the midst of prison officers who had been keeping guard over the mates.

They also refused to comment on the measures being taken to prevent future occurrences.

The situation affected visitors who were visiting their relations who are serving various prison terms, as they were sent away by the guards and told to return the following day.

After media men had waited for over three hours in an effort to seek clearance from the prison authorities concerning the drama, the Public Relations Officer of the Kumasi Central Prison, Mr Stephen Nti, emerged to tell them that the Ashanti Regional Prison Commander, Deputy Director of Prisons Mr Kwame Akon Gyeedu, had ordered him not to talk to journalists regarding the circumstances that compelled 2020 to climb the communication mast.

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