House of Representatives has disclosed that a total of 888 inmates, including 64 terror suspects, escaped from the Kuje Custodial Centre, during the attack on the facility by terrorists on July 5 this year.
Chairman of the House Committee on National Intelligence, Shaaban Sharada, who stated this, yesterday, in Abuja, at the resumed hearing of the jointly organised hearing by all the security committees of the House, on the Kuje prison attack, said, while expressing displeasure over the absence of service chiefs at the investigative hearing, that it was unfortunate that the terrorists operated for several hours during the attack without any formidable resistance from the security personnel at the facility.
According to him, “on that fateful day, a total of about 888 inmates including about 64 terror suspects escaped. Of great concern is that the attack, which lasted for several hours, did not record any formidable resistance from security personnel deployed to the facility nor was there adequate response from the security agencies in the federal Capital Territory despite the proximity of the Nigerian Airforce stationed at the International Airport to the scene of the incident.”
“The Joint Committee swung into action with a visit to the Kuje Correctional facility for an on-the-spot assessment,” he added. “During the visit, the committee observed the devastating destruction of properties as well as all the key and vulnerable points situated in the Facility. Additionally, officials of the Correctional Centre gave the Team a first-hand brief of the events that took place before, during and after the attack.
“Additionally, investigative hearings have also commenced in earnest with the appearance of the nation’s Intelligence agencies and other paramilitary agencies on Tuesday, 23rd August 2022.
During the hearing, insightful briefs were received from the Directors General of the Department of State Services and the National Intelligence Agency and the Comptroller General of the Nigerian Correctional Service. Further briefs were given by the Nigerian Civil Defence Corps and the Nigeria Immigration Service. Also in attendance were the representatives of the National Security Adviser and the National Park Service.”
The Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola, while addressing the lawmakers, stated that on the day of the attack, 31 personnel of the Nigerian Army, five personnel of MOPOL 21, five personnel of MOPOL 50, two personnel of counter terrorism unit of Nigeria Police, two personnel of Kuje police division, seven personnel of Nigeria Immigration, three personnel of Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, 10 personnel of correctional armed squad were on duty.
The Minister lamented that despite government efforts to curb insecurity, there are deliberate attempts “by those who are bent on criminal activities to erode the gains made in the last few years,” noting that “partially, all the security challenges we have are inherited.”
“None was caused or created by this administration. If you recall the country has suffered serious internal security challenges as a result of farmers-herders conflict, especially in the north central geopolitical zones and in the north western geopolitical zones. We have kidnapping for ransom, Boko Haram, cultism, ENDSARs, violent extremism, separatist agitations,” Aregbesola said.
“On the 5th of July around 10pm, a huge number of elements that I believe to be terrorists of a particularly brand came in large numbers to attack our facility. In that facility on that day we had 31 military personnel stationed in Kuje to protect the facility on the day of the invasion were 31 military personnel of the Nigerian Army, 5 personnel of MPOL 21, five personnel of MOPOL 50, two personnel of counter terrorism unit of Nigeria Police, two personnel of Kuje police division, seven personnel of Nigeria Immigration, three personnel of Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, 10 personnel of correctional armed squad.
“These 65 people were there for specific responsibility of resisting and preventing any attack. And they were all armed. Because of the presence of the pressmen here, I would not tell you the grades of arsenals in their possession, but they were well armed.
“If we had a more exclusive arrangement, I would give you specific grades of equipment, military arsenals. Arsenals that were positioned for the defence of the facility; however, in spite of everything, our arrangement of protection of Kuje failed. And the facility was breached. On the night of the attack, Kuje accommodated 994 inmates out of which 64 were terror suspects, Boko Haram, ISWAP and others. 888 inmates escaped during the attack, among them were 554 awaiting trial persons. 71 were convicts, 36 were on death row and 17 were on life imprisonment.”