Residents of Abuja were left in shock on Tuesday July 5, when armed men numbering about 200 broke into the Medium Security Custodial Centre, Kuje, which is Nigeria’s number one prison facility, leading to the escape of 879 inmates.
The attackers, as in previous jailbreaks, used explosive devices to gain access into the facility, killing a personnel of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) attached to the Centre and leaving three others seriously injured.
Spokesman of the Service Abubakar Umar, a Chief Superintendent, disclosed on Tuesday that statement added that 443 of the escapees had been recaptured and efforts were ongoing to recapture all fleeing inmates.
“The Service will deploy its Corrections Information Management System (CIMS) in synergy with National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) to track all fleeing inmates and return them to custody.
“This is also to confirm to the general public that DCP Abba Kyari and other VIPs held in the facility did not escape. They are presently in custody, hale and hearty,” Umar said.
However, a prisons officer who does not want to be named because he is not authorised to speak to the press, told TheNewsGuru.com (TNG) that the successful attack launched on the Nigeria’s number prison facility was a huge embarrassment to the country.
“Federal Government failed. There is no security gadget there (Kuje prison). That is where they keep hardened criminals and big men; they are supposed to have machine guns, armoured tanks and infrared Aerial cameras in the community.
“That way, before those over 150 people would enter Kuje to march to the prison, they would have been detected,” our source said.
The Kuje prison break is the first this year and eighth successful jailbreak attempt since 2020, TNG’s analysis show.
The federal government has confirmed that 1, 397 escaped prisoners have been recaptured, but the majority 4, 720 of them are still at large.
Nigeria’s Minister of Interior Rauf Aregbesola, has said that “the state is a patient bird” and that these prisoners can only run but cannot hide. You can run but you can never hide as the state would track and rearrest them through the use of biometrics.
However, it remains to be seen how the government would actualise this plan in a country where data management remains a challenge and the public sector that is still largely manual in operations.
A security expert Chimezie Okafor, blamed the frequent jail-breaks in the country on congestion of correctional centres and corruption evidenced by the lack of sophisticated military equipment for the military, despite increasing budgetary allocations for security.
“We were told that soldiers, police and civil defence officers were withdrawn from the prison shortly before the attack. If this is so we should be asking who gave the orders for them to be withdrawn,” Okafor stated.
In the same vein, many Nigerians believe the Kuje jailbreak was staged to release Boko Haram terrorists in exchange for scores of train passengers abducted on March 28, when bandits attacked the train close to Kaduna.
In April, the bandits had demanded the release of 16 top commanders and sponsors in government custody in exchange for the release of the passengers.
The Islamic State West Africa Province claimed responsibilityfor the attack in a 30-second video which showed the gunmen setting ablaze vehicles parked in the facility.