President Muhammadu Buhari, yesterday, visited the Kuje Medium Security Custodial Centre, Abuja, which was attacked Tuesday night by scores of armed terrorists, and queried the intelligence gathering system of the authorities at the centre.
The president, who spent 30 minutes to assess the extent of damage at the Correctional Centre, however, wondered why prison defences failed to work and immediately requested for a comprehensive report on the incident.
But a notorious terrorist group, the Islamic State in West Africa Province (ISWAP), has claimed responsibility for the violent attack on Kuje Prison in Abuja.
Buhari, who, like most Nigerians, was shocked by both the scale and audacity of the attack asked: “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?”
After inspecting some of the points impacted by the attack, the president spoke to newsmen, during which he expressed disappointment with the intelligence system (and utilisation).
“I am disappointed with the intelligence system. How can terrorists organise, have weapons, attack a security installation and get away with it?” he queried.
Accompanied by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, and his Chief of Staff, Prof Ibrahim Gambari, the President, said at the end of the visit that he was expecting “a comprehensive report” on the incident.
Earlier upon arrival, Buhari was briefed on the attack by the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Interior, Dr. Shuaib Mohammad Lamido Belgore, and the Controller General of Nigerian Correctional Service, Haliru Nababa, showing him the bombed-out section used to access first, and the records office, which was set on fire, adding that the invaders thereafter launched an attack on all cells in which Boko Haram terrorists were held.
The Commander-in-Chief was told that at the end of the attack, none of the 63 terrorists were accounted for, but it was emphasised that records were not lost, because they had been backed up.
Buhari was also informed that the security forces had recaptured 350 of the escapees while about 450 others were still unaccounted for, and that rapid work was under way to recapture the rest.
This, nonetheless, the presidency has said government would not be deterred from performing its official duties for the citizenry, despite the activities of terrorists in some parts of the country.
The Special Adviser on media and publicity to the President, Femi Adesina, made this known while responding to insinuation that President Buhari ought to shelve his journey to Dakar, Senegal to attend the International Development Association (IDA) for Africa Summit scheduled to hold today.
Critics had contended that cancelling the trip would allow the president to attend to pressing security issues, following the twin attacks on his advance convoy in Katsina and on Kuje Correctional Centre.
Adesina, who anchored the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting’s briefing by ministers, disagreed with the notion, saying, “The president should go (to Senegal), because there’s an international conference meant for heads of states and presidents; he should attend.
“You should never give in to terrorists. The moment terrorists begin to stop you from doing things, then, we might as well throw up our hands in surrender. The President should go ahead. Yes, it’s an international obligation.”
In an earlier release, Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Malam Garba Shehu, had hinted that, the President would leave for Dakar to attend the IDA summit and return today.
IDA, an institution of the World Bank Group, he said, was deepening its support to drive a resilient recovery for countries hit by the global crises of climate and COVID -19, growing levels of insecurity and more recently, by the impact of the war in Ukraine through its historic $93 billion 20th replenishment cycle (IDA20) which goes into effect between July 1, 2022 and June 30, 2025.
ISWAP Claims Responsibility for Kuje Attack
The Islamic State in West Africa Province (ISWAP), a notorious terrorist organization, has claimed responsibility for the attack on the Kuje facility, Abuja.
In a footage last night, the terrorist sect showed some of its men shooting their way into the facility, as tens of fighters were seen marching in groups while vehicles and buildings were on fire in the 38 seconds video.
An elderly man dressed in a native attire also joined the young men, who were shouting on top of their voices
The Islamic State’s A’maq Agency released the video with the caption, although in Arabic: “Fighters of Islamic State attacked Kuje prison in Abuja, yesterday, and succeeded in freeing dozens of prisoners.”
Meanwhile, there was massive security cordon around Abuja, following the attack on Kuje Correctional Center by fighters of Boko Haram, who stormed the prison and freed 150 terrorists, as well ass 450 inmates detained at the medium security prison, which also houses high profile inmates such as governors and senators.
THISDAY gathered that following fears that the insurgents were still lurking in the shadows and might launch another attack in the city, security forces were deployed to beef up troops at the entry points of the city as well as the entry and exit points of Kuje Area Council.
The Federal Capital Territory Authorities (FCTA), had last week, issued a veiled red alert, directing all social, relaxation centers and recreational parks to close by 7pm daily till further notice.
It was further gathered that beyond troop deployment, massive patrols and surveillance activities were intensified by police and intelligence agencies even as a flurry of security meetings had commenced apace.
There was also controversy surrounding the whereabouts of suspended Deputy Commissioner of Police, Abba Kyari, after bandits attacked the facility, where he was kept.
An official, who preferred anonymity, said the whereabouts of Kyari remained unknown to him as of 09.30am yesterday.
“We have not seen him today. He didn’t also come for early morning prayer as usual. But I don’t know what is happening. I am sure he is not missing and he didn’t escape. But I don’t know where exactly he is,” he said.
Spokesperson of the Nigerian Correctional Service, Umar Abubakar, also said, “Kyari is not missing” and was not moved from the Kuje prison.
“He is still in our custody. Nothing happened to him. He has not been moved,” he said.
In a statement yesterday, Nigerian Correctional Service (NCoS), said the armed squad of the service in collaboration with other security agencies responded to the attack.
The statement titled: “Medium Security Custodial Centre, Kuje attacked by gunmen”, stated that, the armed squad of the the service responded to the attack.
“I wish to confirm that at about 2200hrs, some yet-to-be-identified gunmen attacked the Medium Security Custodial Centre, Kuje, in the Federal Capital Territory.
“However, men of the Armed Squad of the Nigerian Correctional Service and other security agencies attached to the Custodial Centre have responded and calm has been restored to the facility and the situation is under control. Other details will be made available soon,” it said.
About 300 Boko Haram terrorists launched a violent attack on Kuje Correctional Center, deploying bombs, Rocket Propelled Grenade (RPG) and General Purpose Machine Guns (GPMG), freeing 1,365 inmates, including 150 Boko Haram fighters detained at the facility.
Six inmates and one security personnel were killed during the attack.
But the Minister of Defence, Maj.Gen Bashir Magashi (rtd), said of the 994 inmates at the prison, 600 escaped.
Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Mohammed Bello, and the Commissioner of Police, Mr Sunday Babaji, were at the scene of the attack to inspect damaged facilities in the aftermath of the attack.
Prison officials said at the end of the attack after a roll call was taken at 2am yesterday, only 111 inmates were left.
The situation has also forced the relocation of other other high profile detainees.
The insurgents had attacked through the back of the prison and planted bombs around the facility.
The minister, who said the situation was under control, confirmed that Boko Haram inmates had all escaped.
“The attack started around 10:30pm. 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 that, we are trying to see what we can do to ensure that all escapees are returned.
“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,” the minister said.
A statement issued by the minister’s office, said, Magashi, who was received and conducted round the damaged facility by the Permanent Secretary Ministry of Interior, Belgore, described the organised crime as unfortunate.
“The Defence Minister, who had to delay his flying time to Owerri, Imo State, to attend the Nigerian Army Day Celebration (NADCEL), was also briefed extensively by the Controller General of the Nigerian Correctional Service, Haliru Nababa, as well as other heads of military and para-military agencies on hand at the location.
“This was with a view to conducting a post-attack analysis and to forestall a re-currence of the dastardly act by the gunmen believed to be terrorists,” the statement stated.
Fielding questions from journalists, the minister, however, appreciated the timely repelling of the attack by the gallant security operatives, who were drafted in on reinforcement to contain the attackers.
He reassured Nigerians that President Buhari would be briefed and also gave an assurance that the jailbreakers could not go unapprehended and would definitely face the wrath of the law.
The defence minister disclosed that further briefing on the incident that led to the attack would be received, adding that one life was lost on the side of the proactive repellants security forces.
The minister also tasked the Gomo of Kuje, Haruna Tanko Jibrin to summon all traditional chiefs in Kuje Area Council to combine intelligence with security agencies to apprehend all inmates, who escaped from the correctional facility.
He called on members of the communities to provide appropriate intelligence to the security agencies to enable them do their work.
He added that such incidents constituted a threat to everybody, hence the need for everyone to support the security agencies in carrying out their assignments.
Prison officials said over 150 terrorists were freed that night.
“All the major, biggest terrorists, armed robbers and kidnappers have escaped. No reinforcement came two hours after attack. Nobody came for assistance. Kuje correctional center completely taken over and all criminals and terrorists have escaped,” an official, who spoke anonymously, said.
PDP: APC Complicit in Kuje Prison Attack, Probes Redeployment of Soldiers 24hrs Before Attack
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), has condemned in strong terms, the spate of insecurity and the audacity with which terrorists ravage the country unchallenged “under the rudderless All Progressives Congress (APC) administration.”
The PDP said the simultaneous terrorist attacks on the advance convoy of President Buhari in Katsina State as well as the correctional facility in Abuja, the nation’s capital, underscored the collapse of the security command and control structure under the failed, ineffective and uncoordinated Buhari-led APC administration.
A statement by the party’s National Publicity Secretary, Debo Ologunagba, stated that the terrorists’ attack on President Buhari’s convoy in his home State of Katsina as well as the ferocious invasion and the freeing of hundreds of terrorists and criminals from the Kuje Correctional Facility further confirmed that Mr. President has lost control of the security of the nation and that Nigerians were no longer safe under the APC.
According to the PDP, “The escalated spate of terrorism across the country has heightened apprehensions of complicity by the APC to open up the nation to more terrorists’ attacks with a view to stalling the 2023 general election.
“The failure of the APC administration to act on the intelligence provided by the Directorate of State Services (DSS), which on Tuesday July 5, 2022 reportedly warned of an impending attack on the Kuje Correctional Facility, gives credence to fears by Nigerians of complicity at very high level of the APC administration.
“This is in addition to further reports that soldiers deployed to the precinct of the Kuje Correctional Facility and who had become familiar with the terrain were redeployed 24 hours before the terrorists attacked.”
The PDP, therefore, demanded that the APC government should come clean on who ordered the reported redeployment of soldiers and who failed to act on the intelligence provided by the DSS.
Presidential candidate of the PDP in 2023, Atiku Abubakar, yesterday, expressed shock over the Kuje Prison break, stating that it has great security implications for people living in Abuja and environs.
He also consoled the federal government over the death of the immediate past secretary general of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), Sanusi Mohammad Barkindo.
In series of tweets, the former vice-president, said, “I am concerned and saddened by reports of the attack on Kuje Prison by suspected terrorists.
“My concern arises not only from the prospects of the escape of detained terrorists and hardened criminals but of its implications for the security of lives and property to residents of Abuja and its environs.
“I wish to restate what I said to THISDAY Newspapers on Monday that our inability to enthrone a regime of law and order in which the arrest and prosecution of criminals will be made a priority as a deterrent to copycats is the reason why insecurity continues to fester in our country,” Atiku stated.
On the death of the immediate past Secretary General of OPEC, Atiku said, “Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi raji’un. I am saddened by the passing away of the Wali of Adamawa, Secretary-General of OPEC, and former GMD NNPC, Dr Muhammad Sanusi Barkindo. Barkindo left indelible marks in his service to our nation and OPEC. He was indeed a worthy ambassador of Nigeria.
“He died in active service, having delivered a speech at the ongoing Nigerian Oil and Gas Conference in Abuja and held a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari hours before passing. He was my very good friend, and he will be sorely missed.
“My condolences to his family and friends, management and staff of NNPC and OPEC. I pray that Allah forgives his sins and grants him Aljannah Firdaus. Ameen,” he stated.
Ondo State Governor, Mr Oluwarotimi Akeredolu (SAN), yesterday, condemned Tuesday’s attack on President Buhari’s convoy by bandits in Kastina State, describing it as daring.
This is as the governor said, the call for State Police was not for self-aggrandizement but a reality of the time.
Akeredolu spoke in Akure while playing host to his former school mates at Loyola College Ibadan (1968/1972) set, where he lamented the security situation in the country, adding that, it had gone from bad to worse.
He noted that the country’s security challenges had gone beyond Fulani herdsmen to the menace of bandits and ISWAP.
“We, governors in the Southwest met and we are still more than convinced that there is no solution other than state police. The truth is that, we will be prepared to protect ourselves and die in the process more than other people from outside. We can only protect ourselves better.
“We will be more committed to protecting ourselves. By the time we have State Police, we will be encouraged to recruit people in a local government to work in that local government as security.
“For me, state police is not for self-aggrandizement; it is a reality of the time. For us in the South and even in the North, I know so many of them that have come to accept that a single command of Police is not good for this country. This country is too big.
“We will continue to make our voice heard everywhere. We are almost there. We are licking our wounds here over the June 5 attack in Owo. It is a serious wound. We will never forget. We are putting together a memorial in a conspicuous place in Owo,” governor Akeredolu said.
Earlier, the Acting President of the Loyola College Old Boys’ Association (1968/1972) set, Mr Ayodele Adigun condemned the June 5 attack in Owo, while expressing shock that such heinous crime could be carried out in the Southwest.
He said the attack was particularly aimed at tarnishing the image of the governor and rubbish his efforts so far, especially, on the security of lives and property of the people.
Afenifere: Insecurity in Nigeria Getting Out of Hands
A Pan-Yoruba Socio-political group, Afenufere, yesterday, described the attack on the advance presidential team to Daura, hometown of President Muhammadu Buhari, and the violent attack on Kuje Prison in the nation’s Federal Capital Territory, as affirmations that the security situation in Nigeria was getting out of hand at a rate faster than is acknowledged by the authorities who should deal with it.
Afenifere, in a damning revelation contained in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Comrade Jare Ajayi, lamented that same evening of same day, Tuesday July 5, 2022, when Buhari’s convoy was attacked, suspected Boko Haram members stormed Kuje Prison in the Federal Capital Territory with explosives and they operated for over one hour.
Afenifere regretted that the two attacks were not isolated as reports of terrorism attacks occasioning loss of lives, kidnapping, raping, bodily harms etc occur on a daily basis.
The group stated that what set the ones of this Tuesday apart was its derring-do nature, another indication that the country was under siege.
“The nature of these attacks should send serious signals to the governments, to the security agencies and indeed to all Nigerians.
“The one on the presidential team seems to be a coded language by enemies of the nation that they are not afraid of anyone notwithstanding the status of such a person. For it goes without saying that a presidential team would normally be fortified.
“So, for a group to attack such a team must be out of sheer bravado – which unfortunately further exposed how vulnerable our security situation is,” it stated.
Afenifere also noted that the attack on Kuje Correctional Centre, like some other attacks that occurred in such areas, “appears to be a statement by those enemies of Nigeria that they can strike anywhere and at any time.
“For, this Kuje attack, taken together with the fatal attack on a military team in Niger State last month, keeps reminding one of the build-up of the Afghanistan saga that led to the forceful take-over of government in that country last year. Everything needs to be done to ensure that such does not occur here.”
“By this we are referring to the kid-glove manner by which the government and its security arms have been dealing with those caught in banditry and terrorism.
“Normally, anyone around the president or governor ought to have a sense of safety just as the presence of government ought to be an assurance for the citizens regarding their security. The attacks on the presidential team and on Kuje prison, like the ones that had taken place in different parts of the country before, make Nigerians to feel more and more insecure.”
NSCDC Promises to Compensate Family of Dead Officer
Commandant-General, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), Dr. Ahmed Audi, has promised compensation to the family of its staffer lost in the attack on Kuje Minimum Custodial Centre.
Speaking during a visit to the Centre, in company with the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Interior, Dr Shauibu Belgore, Inspector General of Police, Controller General of Corrections Service, Comptroller General of the Federal Fire Service, representative of the Comptroller of Nigeria Immigration Service and Director Special Duties in the Ministry of Interior, Dr Funsho Alabi, Audi assured the family of the deceased, Inspector Ilyasu Abraham, that they would be reached out to and necessary compensation delivered in due time.
The Corps helmsman sympathised with the family of the deceased, who was deployed by the Federal Capital Territory command of the NSCDC to the custodial centre on guard duty but unfortunately paid the supreme price during the attack.
The CG commiserated with his immediate family and prayed God to grant them the fortitude to bear the irreparable loss, adding that Ilyasu was a gallant officer, who fought a good fight and died in active service defending the land.
He urged citizens to keep calm as NSCDC in collaboration with other security agencies were working tirelessly to ensuring the safety of lives and protection of Critical National Assets and Infrastructure.
The CG, however, said adequate measures would be put in place to avoid such reoccurrence across the country.
Kachikwu Urges Buhari to Resign over Worsening Insecurity
Presidential candidate of the African Democratic Congress (ADC), Dumebi Kachikwu, has called on President Muhammadu Buhari, to resign amid worsening insecurity in the country.
Kachikwu, in a statement, said the attack on the convoy of the President on its way to Daura, Katsina State and simultaneous attack on Kuje Correctional Centre, were clear signs that the country is now faced with a grave security threat.
He wondered who then is safe if the President’s convoy could be attacked as well as the Kuje Prison, which is just a few kilometers to the seat of power.
He insisted that the twin deadly attacks have once again exposed the nation’s weak security architecture, which Buhari has failed to strengthen.
“The events of the last 24 hours, have once again exposed the weak underbelly of our nation’s security architecture. Some members of the President’s advance team were slain while the Kuje prison in our nation’s capital was attacked and scores of prisoners released by terrorists.
“This is indeed another low moment in a series of low moments under the Buhari administration. I sympathise with the families of those killed in the line of duty. I once again call on President Buhari to do the honourable thing and resign since he can no longer secure the Nigerian people.
“Nigerians are paying a huge price for his inept leadership. If the terrorists are now bold enough to attack the President’s convoy and a heavily guarded prison just a few kilometres away from the Aso Villa, who then is safe in Buhari’s Nigeria?” Kachikwu asked.