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Nigeria: Insiders Connived with Terrorists to Attack Kuje Prison, Senate President Lawan Alleges

Dr. Ahmad Lawan, President of Nigeria’s Senate, on Thursday said Tuesday’s attack on the Kuje Medium Security Custodial Centre was successful, because it was done in connivance with insiders at the facility.

Dr. Ahmad Lawan, President of Nigeria’s Senate, on Thursday said Tuesday’s attack on the Kuje Medium Security Custodial Centre was successful, because it was done in connivance with insiders at the facility.

Importantly, he said the incident spoke volumes about the failure of the country’s security architecture.
But the federal government, has said it has mobilised all the nation’s security apparatuses to go after the attackers and fleeing escapees, ordering immediate activation of checkpoints across the country in search of them.

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Lawan spoke, when he led a delegation of the senate leadership to assess the level of destruction done to the correctional facility by insurgents. The senators were conducted round the facility by the Comptroller-General of the Nigerian Correctional Service, Haliru Nababa.
According to the senate president, an attack on the Kuje Medium Security Custodial Centre, could only have been possible with the collaboration of insiders within the nation’s correctional system.
He faulted the Nigerian Correctional Service for not providing Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) at the Kuje correctional facility and others across the country.
Lawan, therefore, asked the Comptroller General of the NCS to include a request for the provision of CCTV across maximum and medium correctional centers across the country in its 2023 budget proposal to the National Assembly for approval.
“The attack on this correctional facility is symptomatic of the failure of security failure. The attack is only a culmination of the failure. We were told that an estimated 300 terrorists attacked this facility. They came on foot, and I believe they should have been detected.
“In the first place, 300 people will not come for an operation like this without planning. Planning must have taken a week, a month or a bit more. I believe that our security agencies should have picked this from their tracking systems in the FCT.
“Secondly, having gone round the facility itself, we are disappointed that this facility does not have Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) cameras, something that would record and give you details of what is happening and sometimes record the events.
“This is a medium security custodial center, how on earth in the FCT facility of this magnitude we don’t have CCTV? It means we can say that all other medium security centers across the country do not have CCTV.
“We have asked the Comptroller General of Correctional Centre to ensure that the request for CCTV at the maximum and medium custodial centres of the country are included in their 2023 budget, because this is essential and indispensable.
“Now, as this facility lacks a functional CCTV, there’s no record of what happened, except narration. But if we had CCTV, at least the records would have been there and analysis made, and arrest will be based on the information from the CCTV.
“Thirdly, going from one cell to another to release people, specifically, those that are known to be insurgents, tells a lot of story. It may not be far away from an insider job, someone, who is either working in this place or must have worked here. I think we have to look deeper into what happened, so that we find the culprits, because when things like this happen, then there should be sanctions.
“Where people fail to do their job properly, and they have been given that responsibility, they should be asked to take responsibility. If people don’t take responsibility for their failure, then it means nobody would bother to do what is expected of their office or the job that the person has been given.
“Having this kind of situation today in the FCT, that we have criminals, who are free now all over the city is very dangerous and you can never have peace of mind. The FCT has the seat of government, and today that seat is not safe. So, we have to do whatever it takes to get everybody back.”
Lawan tasked the security agencies to ensure that the insurgents, who escaped from the Kuje medium security custodial center are found and brought back.
Commanding Officer of the Nigerian Army Battalion in Gwagwalada, Lieutenant Colonel Adisa, had told the Senate leadership that, over three hundred insurgents were behind Tuesday’s attack on the Kuje medium security custodial facility.
He added that, a total of 50 security personnel were on ground, when the terrorists armed with IEDs stormed the facility to release the insurgents.
Meanwhile, the Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, who claimed the federal government had mobilised against the attackers, said, “We are working with the Ministry of Defence and the Office of the National Security Adviser as well as other intelligence and security agencies to ensure that the attackers and the escaped inmates are captured and returned to custody.”
Aregbesola, in a statement by his media aide, Sola Fasure, added: “As we speak, security personnel are combing the whole area, up to a distance of 100 kilometres radius, looking for them. All checkpoints nationwide, have been put on alert. More than 400 of them have been brought in and more are still coming.”
He disclosed that he had been briefed on the full scale armed invasion of the correctional facility.
He recalled that the security officers on duty fiercely engaged the criminals and inflicted a heavy casualty on them, but regrettably, given their unprecedented number, they overpowered the officers on duty. One of the security personnel that engaged the attackers was unfortunately killed.
The minister noted that preliminary investigation, has indicated that the Boko Haram sect might have been responsible for the attack, adding that the Nigerian Correctional Service (NCoS), in conjunction with other security agencies, were working to bring back in the escaped inmates.
He said after the Abolongo, Oyo State, attack on a correctional facility, in October last year, it became apparent that a new form of attack for which the system was not prepared had emerged.
“Our system was primed to prevent and foil internal disturbance and riots, not external attacks/invasion, since the facilities were usually built around police and military formations,” he explained, directing also that the NCoS urgently work with other security agencies to fortify all correctional centres in the country and insulate them against future attacks, among other measures introduced.
He said this was carried out, as well armed soldiers, police and Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) officers were drafted to their facilities nationwide, to secure them against further attacks, saying, “Several but unsuccessful attempts were made to attack our facilities since then, as the armed guards repelled them on each occasion.
“We appeal to all residents to be calm but vigilant. Security is a collective work between government and the citizens. Kindly, therefore, report all suspicious individuals and activities to the nearest security agency around you. We appeal also to doctors and medical workers to treat and then immediately report anyone with gunshot wounds to the law enforcement agency.”
The government, according to the minister, has further directed that all correctional facilities in the country be fortified; that all personnel be vigilant and alert, to avoid recurrence.
Consequently, he has directed full investigation into the incident and that he should be briefed as soon as possible, adding that, if any complicity was established, appropriate actions would be taken.

Sunday Aborisade and Michael Olugbode in Abuja