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10 Brutal Jailbreaks On President Buhari’s Watch
By Tola Owoyele
On July 5, gunmen in large numbers attacked the Kuje Correctional Centre in Abuja, freeing more than 600 inmates. During the invasion, six inmates and one prison official was killed.
The gunmen shot sporadically, detonated eight bombs and forced the prison guards to run for safety.
They also took their time to deliver a Quranic lecture and subsequently shared transport fares to their freed members. The Islamic State in West Africa Province (ISWAP) would later claim responsibility for the attack.
While reacting to the jailbreak that lasted for close to two hours, president Muhammadu Buhari expressed his sadness and berated the country’s overall intelligence system.
This is however not the first time a deadly jailbreak has taken place under his administration. Below are records of similar attacks.
KOTON/KARFE, NSUKA ATTACKS
On July 29, 2016, 13 inmates escaped during a jailbreak at the Koton/Karfe Correctional Centre in Kogi State.
The prisoners forcefully took down a section of the prison wall before escaping from the premises, and security agencies were only able to rearrest one of the inmates after the incident.
A few weeks after the Koton Karfe attack, attackers struck again, and at least 15 inmates broke out of their cells and scaled the perimeter fence at the Nsukka Correctional Centre in Enugu State. It was on August 9, 2016. Only two inmates were rearrested by security operatives after the incident.
IKOT EKPENE, MINNA ATTACKS
On December 27, 2017, 36 inmates escaped during a deadly jailbreak at the Ikot Ekpene Correctional Facility in Akwa Ibom State.
The prisoners were said to have wrestled an axe from a kitchen staff and used it in fighting prison officials.
In the end, 36 inmates escaped from the facility. While four died during the incident, seven inmates were recaptured by law enforcement agencies.
Similarly, armed men attacked the Medium Security Correctional Facility in Tunga, Minna, Niger State, on June 3, 2018. During the prison break, over 200 inmates were freed.
In the end, only 28 prisoners were recaptured by security operatives.
BENIN, OKITIPUPA ATTACKS
During the October 2020 #EndSARS protest, hoodlums numbering over 100 in Benin, the Edo State capital, launched coordinated attacks on the Benin and Oko prisons in the city, broke cells open and freed several inmates.
Before launching the attack, the hoodlums had gathered as early as 7 am in the morning, setting bonfires and blocking road users. During the jailbreak, 1,993 prisoners escaped from both prisons.
A few hours later, one of the inmates who had escaped from Oko prison went to his village to kill a witness who had testified against him in court.
Two weeks after the incident, only a total of 207 either turned themselves in or were rearrested.
On October 22, 2020, another set of hoodlums attacked the National Correctional Service Facility in Okitipupa, Ondo State, pulling down the walls of the prison and setting 58 prisoners free.
The hoodlums also set the police area command in the local government area headquarters on fire, burnt many cars and injured many officials. They were also said to have carted many police rifles away during the attack.
On the same day, assailants attempted to break into the Ikoyi Correctional Centre in Lagos but were repelled by a combined team of correctional officers and soldiers.
OWERRI, KABBA ATTACKS
Gunmen attacked the Owerri Custodial Centre in Imo State with explosives and dynamites on April 5, 2021, freeing 1,884 inmates. In the attack described as one of the worst in the country’s history, the operation lasted from 1 am to 3 am.
The prison authorities revealed that 600 inmates either returned to the facility or were rearrested after the attack.
Also, on September 12, 2021, unknown assailants stormed the Medium Security Custodial Centre in Kabba, Kogi State, engaging the armed guards in a fierce gun battle.
Due to the armed men’s superior firepower, more than 240 inmates were released, and two prison officials killed. After the incident, security agencies said they rearrested 114 prisoners.
OYO, PLATEAU ATTACKS
On October 22, 2021, unknown assailants attacked the Abologo Custodial Centre in Oyo State, freeing 837 prisoners in the process.
When a manhunt was launched to re-arrest the fleeing inmates, security officials were only able to recapture 252 prisoners.
After four inmates escaped from its premises in July 2021, the Medium Security Custodial Centre, Jos, Plateau State, suffered another attack on November 28, 2021, when armed men attacked the prison and released 262 inmates. During the deadly attack, 10 inmates and one security official were killed.
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