An official position on the number of escaped inmates of Kuje Custodial Centre has emerged, with the Custodial Service claiming that 443, representing more than half of 879 escapees have been recaptured.
Meanwhile, President Muhammadu Buhari visited the attacked prison, seeking answers to pertinent questions. His questions, in his own words: “How did the defences at the prison fail to prevent the attack? How many inmates were in the facility? How many of them can you account for? How many personnel did you have on duty? How many of them were armed? Were there guards on the watchtower? What did they do? Does the CCTV work?”
He spent about 30 minutes there.
According to a statement by his spokesman, Mr. Garba Shehu, the President, like most Nigerians, was shocked by both the scale and audacity of the attack.
The President was also informed that the security forces have recaptured 350 of the escapees while about 450 others are still unaccounted for, and that rapid work is under way to recapture the rest.
After inspecting some of the points impacted by the attack, President Buhari spoke to newsmen, expressing disappointment with the intelligence system (and utilization).
“I am disappointed with the intelligence system. How can terrorists organize, have weapons, attack a security installation and get away with it?”
The President, accompanied by Boss Mustapha, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Professor Ibrahim Gambari, the Chief of Staff, said at the end of the visit that he is expecting “a comprehensive report” on the incident.
The Presidency wishes to use this opportunity to react to mounting criticism of the trip to Dakar, Senegal by the President, and to stress that Governments don’t stop working because nations face terrorist threats. To cancel the trip to Senegal would mean that the terrorists are successful in calling the shots, something that no responsible government in the world will allow.
Another visitor, the Minister of Defence, Bashir Magashi, announced that all Boko Haram suspects detained in the prison, Abuja have escaped. On Wednesday, while addressing journalists after taking an assessment tour of the facility, following Tuesday night’s attack, Magashi said there were about 64 Boko Haram suspects in the Kuje prison adding that the prison authority has not been able to account for them.
The Defence Minister disclosed that from available records, it appeared Boko Haram members carried out the Kuje attack.
“The attack started around 10:30 pm. They came in their numbers, gained entrance into the prison and they released some of the inmates and which we are now following to see the kind of inmates that they have released.
“Very soon, we will give you the correct figure of the inmates that were taken. Aside from that, we are trying to see what we can do to ensure that all escapees are returned back.
“The prison is accommodating about 994 inmates and over 600 escaped. Many people have been recaptured and brought back to the prison. Maybe by the close of the day, more will have been captured and returned. I think everything is under control.
“The people who came to do this activity, from the records, we believe they belong to a particular group.
“Most likely, they are Boko Haram members because we have sizeable number of Boko Haram suspects in detention, and presently we cannot locate any of them.
“I think they are about 64 in the prison and none of them now is available they have all escaped,” Magashi said.
In a statement by its spokesman,
Chief Superintendent of Corrections Umar Abubakar, the Nigerian Custodial Service said:
“In furtherance to my earlier press release on the unfortunate attack by gunmen suspected to be terrorists, I wish to state that the attackers broke into the Medium Security Custodial Centre, Kuje using explosive devices through the main entrance and the fence of the facility respectively, killing a personnel of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) attached to the Custodial Centre and leaving three (3) personnel of the Nigerian Correctional Service seriously injured.
“A total of 879 inmates escaped from the facility during the unfortunate attack. As at the time of this report, 443 have been recaptured, 551 inmates are currently in custody, 443 inmates are still at large, 4 inmates dead and 16 inmates sustained various degree of injuries and are being treated at the moment. However, efforts are 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
confirms 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.
“Recall that after the attack at the Medium Custodial Centre in Agbolongo, Oyo state, the Honourable Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, met with the heads of the security agencies under his supervision where the idea of Joint SecurityTaskforce comprising the Nigerian Correctional Service, Nigerian Immigration Service, and the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps was formed to forstall further breaches on custodial facilities. As at the time of the attack on the Kuje facility, we have 38 military personnels on ground in addition to personnel of the Nigeria Police Force, Civil Defence, DSS and our Armed Squad.This is the Minister’s efforts to rejig the security architecture of our facilities.
“The public is also informed that some of the attackers were killed while some escaped with gunshot wounds. We therefore appeal to hospitals and other medical institutions and practitioners to report anyone that comes to them for treatment for gunshot injuries to the nearest law enforcement agency.
“The Controller General of Corrections Haliru Nababa…appreciates the efforts of other security agencies for coming to the rescue of the Service in a timely manner. He calls on the public to volunteer useful information that may lead to the arrest of the fleeing inmates.
“The CG has reassured the public that the unfortunate incident is been handled with every sense of dedication and professionalism. He further extends his condolence to the families of those who lost their lives during the attack and wishes the injured ones a quick recovery.”