By Ed Malik
In recent times, public affairs analysts and security experts have expressed alarm at the rate our correctional facilities have been invaded and hardened criminals set free in the process without serving their terms.
One expert who craved anonymity said: “Prison breaks are becoming a pervasive security reality in Nigeria due to a lack of surveillance infrastructure. He said, “bandits and militants have taken advantage of the unavailing weak security system and have made prison attacks a common target.”
Unverified estimate projects a scandalous number of over 7,000 prisoners have escaped from the various Nigerian prisons since 2010.
However, tracking successful prison breaks in the last seven years of the current administration under the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari, a retired Army General, is not the best of compliments. There have been up to 15 successful jail breaks under this government who rode into power touting fixing Nigeria’s abysmal security drift but have failed dismally, so far.
A conservative account shows that the following prisons were broken into and many prisoners escaped:
- September 3, 2015 – Sokoto Remand Home, Sokoto State break.
(13 inmates escape.)
2. October 7, 2017 – Enugu Maximum prison, Enugu State.
(2 inmates escape.)
- December 27, 2017 – Ikot Ekpene Prison, Akwa Ibom State attacked.
(47 inmates escaped.)
- June 4, 2018 – Minna Maximum Security prison, Niger State.
(210 inmates escaped.)
- October 19, 2020 – Oko Prison, Edo State attacked.
- October 21, 2020 – Benin Prison, Edo State.
(1,993 inmates escaped from the two facilities.)
- October 22, 2020 – Okitipupa prison, Ondo State.
(58 inmates released.)
- April 4, 2021 – Owerri prison, Imo State.
(1,844 inmates freed.)
- July 19, 2021- Jos maximum security prison, Plateau State attacked.
(4 inmates escaped.)
- September 13, 2021 – Kabba prison, Kogi State.
(240 inmates freed.)
- October 22, 2021: Abolongo prison, Oyo State.
(837 inmates escaped.)
- November 28, 2021 – Jos medium security prison, Plateau State attacked.
(262 inmates released, 10 killed.)
- Jan 2, 2022 – Mandala Prison Ilorin, Kwara State.
(3 inmates escaped.)
- May 13, 2022 – Agbor Prison, Delta State, fence collapsed.
(3 inmates escaped.)
- July 4, 2022 Kuje Prison FCT, Abuja, attacked.
Of particular interest is that, the Kuje Correctional Centre facility before the latest massive break, has been highly susceptible to breaks in recent years.
On June 24, 2016, there was a jailbreak at Kuje Medium Security in the Federal Capital Territory where two high profile inmates in persons of Solomon Amodu and Maxwell Ajukwu, who were both awaiting trial for homicide escaped from custody by scaling through the fence. As a consequence, the Kuje prison chief was removed after this jailbreak by the Controller General of the Nigerian Prison Service.
On August 29, 2016, authorities of the Nigeria Prisons in the Federal Capital Territory reported another unsuccessful jailbreak at the Kuje Medium Security Prison. Authorities said some inmates tried to resist the routine cell-search which is part of the operational guidelines which led to an altercation between the officers and the inmates. The situation was quickly put under control and order restored as no prisoner was injured or any property damaged in the facility.
Not counting the multiple failed attempts, the ascendancy of this criminal brazenness is a cause for alarm, which the security agencies and the military must brace up to, in order to firmly and securely keep the bad guys away until their prison reformation processes run its course.