More than 48 hours after terrorists stormed the Kuje Custodial Centre in the Federal Capital Territory, Interior Minister Rauf Aregbesola, said yesterday that Nigeria’s prisons were not built to withstand external attacks.
Aregbesola, whose ministry has between October 2020 and now witnessed 12 prison attacks, explained that the nation’s custodial centres were designed “to prevent and foil internal disturbances and riots.”
He spoke for the first time on the Kuje attack at the launch of the Enhanced e-Passport for Nigerians in Washington DC, United States.
He is billed to attend a Security Council meeting scheduled for today with the President.
“Our system was primed to prevent and foil internal disturbances and riots, not external attacks/invasion since the facilities were usually built around police and military formations,” the minister said.
Aregbesola, however, directed the Nigerian Correctional Service (NCoS) to urgently work with other security agencies to fortify all custodial centres in the country and insulate them against future attacks.
In a statement by his media aide, Sola Fasure , Aregbesola also called for calm as concerted efforts were being made to re-arrest all the inmates that escaped from the facility.
He said that apart from putting all checkpoints nationwide on the alert, security agents were combing the whole Kuje area, up to a distance of 100 kilometres radius, in search of the escapees.
The minister also said that 400 inmates were back in the facility, assuring that more would be brought back.
He stated that “security officers on duty fiercely engaged the attackers and inflicted a heavy casualty on them.”
Aregbesola explained that preliminary investigation showed that the attackers whom he believes were Boko Haram insurgents overpowered the NCoS officers that were on duty.
His words: “Regrettably, the unprecedented number, they overpowered the officers on duty.
“Preliminary investigation indicates that the Boko Haram sect may have been responsible for the attack.
“The Nigerian Correctional Service (NCoS), in conjunction with other security agencies, are working to bring back in the escaped inmates.” Aregbesola also noted that following previous incidences of attacks, well-armed soldiers, police and Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) officers were drafted to the custodial centres nationwide to secure them against further attacks.