President Muhammadu Buhari has expressed disappointment with the intelligence system, following the terrorists’ attack on the Kuje prison.
“I am disappointed with the intelligence system. How can terrorists organise, have weapons, attack a security installation and get away with it?” The president asked after inspecting some of the points attacked at the custodial centre, where he spent about 30 minutes.
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According to the presidential spokesman, Garba Shehu, “Soon after he (President Buhari) arrived, he was briefed about 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 president was apprised that, at the end of it, none of the 63 terrorists are accounted for, but it was emphasised that records are not lost because they have been backed up.”
Shehu in a statement issued after the visit said President Buhari like most Nigerians was shocked by both the scale and audacity of the attack and queried: “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?”
He said the president 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 underway to recapture the rest.
Fear grips Abuja residents, schools deserted
Meanwhile, there is palpable fear among residents of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) over the correctional centre.
Daily Trust reports that many residents did not allow their children to go to school. Residents said that they noticed the movement of some of the inmates while escaping from the prison at about 1:30 am in the early hours of Wednesday.
A resident, Mr Ishaku, said; “We saw some of the inmates running and passing our area, some of them even stole the clothes we spread on the line outside and slippers in the compound. We were afraid we could not come out.”
As a result of the attack, schools in the area were also deserted as parents refused to release many of their children to attend schools located within the precinct of the prison.
Mr. Dayo Ahmadu, a resident of Lugbe, a town in the nation’s capital, wondered why such would happen at a prison in Abuja where all the security architecture is housed.
“This is sad. How will the ordinary residents be safe in this kind of situation? We are just at the mercy of God. This is definitely not good for the image of the country,’’ he said.
Another resident, Amina Mohammed, advised the relevant authorities to immediately begin the search for the escapees.
“Much needs to be done on our security. We are just not safe if this is happening in the nation’s capital, now I can feel what the people in Borno, Niger, Zamfara and Kaduna States are experiencing,’’ he said.
Mr. James Achibo, a Kuje resident, asked the federal government and the FCT Administration to live up to expectations in the area of security.
A security source also told Daily Trust that farmers, vigilantes and hunters assisted the security operatives to capture some of the inmates.
Meanwhile, security operatives comprising mainly of soldiers have taken over the prisons and its vicinity.
PDP calls for emergency Council of State meeting
In its reaction, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) called on Buhari to immediately convene an emergency Council of State meeting for a review of the prevailing “dangerous security atmosphere in our country.”
PDP said the call became imperative because of the “Audacity with which terrorists ravage our country unchallenged under the APC administration.”
The party in a statement signed by Hon. Debo Ologunagba, National Publicity Secretary 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, underscore the collapse of the security command and control structure under “The failed, ineffective and uncoordinated Buhari-led APC administration.”
Hardened criminals all over – Atiku
Also, the presidential candidate of the PDP for the 2023 elections, Atiku Abubakar has condemned the attack on Kuje Prison by suspected terrorists.
Atiku in a statement made available to journalists said he was sad.
“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.”
The presidential candidate of the African Democratic Congress (ADC), Dumebi Kachikwu, has asked President Muhammadu Buhari to resign over worsening insecurity in the country.
Kachikwu on Wednesday in a statement, said the attack on the convoy of the president on its way to Daura, Katsina State and the jailbreak at Kuje Correctional Centre, were clear signs that the country is now faced with a grave security threat.
Security beefed up around prison facilities in Kirikiri, others
Security has been beefed up around all correctional facilities in the South West region following the attack on the Kuje facility.
The move is to forestall attacks on any facility belonging to the Lagos State Command of the Nigerian Correctional Service.
In Lagos, the facilities belonging to the service both in Kirikiri town and Ikoyi, where it is believed that some suspected Boko Haram fighters were being held there were an unusual presence of both uniformed and plain clothes security operatives manning the entry and exit points.
It was observed that those who have to pass through the facility in Kirikiri town, were thoroughly questioned and checked before they were allowed through.
The correctional centre in Kirikiri shares the same fence with the Nigerian Navy Town, Ojo and most naval officers and their families had to pass through the centre to get to their base or home.
There was long queue at the entrance into the correctional facility from the Kirikiri end as drivers were questioned, while those on foot were not left out.
A security source at Ikoyi told our correspondent that some of the detainees have been attending their trials in court in Lagos under high level security escort.
At Ikoyi, armed soldiers were seen manning guard along the road leading to Dodan Barracks and the former seat of power on Ribadu Road, Ikoyi.
Speaking on phone on the state of security around the facilities in Lagos, the Public Relations Officer (PRO), Lagos State Command, Chief Superintendent of Prison (CSP), Rotimi Oladokun, said the command has been on red alert, even before the attack on Kuje facility.
Northern Elders, dons lash at Buhari over Senegal trip
The Northern Elders Forum (NEF) has said that considering the deteriorating state of insecurity in the country, it seems Buhari has given up on the citizenry.
The NEF’s Director of Publicity and Advocacy, Dr Hakeem Baba-Ahmed was reacting to concerns over the recent travels by President Muhammadu Buhari despite the upsurge in attacks.
He further said in most parts of the world, a leader of a country experiencing what the country is going through will be circumspect and sensitive about travelling.
“In most parts of the world, the leader of a country experiencing what we are going through will be very circumspect and sensitive about travelling with the frequency with which President Buhari travels. Nigerians do not bother to read the tedious press statements and marching orders emanating from the Villa anymore.”
Similarly, an associate Professor of Political Sociology, University of Abuja, Dr. Abubakar Umar Kari, described the president’s trip as “Absolutely shocking and indefensible”.
He told this paper that the president had no business jetting out of the country just a few hours after the latest spate of bloody attacks and killings across the country.
“Nothing can justify any trip by the president anytime soon. Doing so fits into the belief by many that the president does not care about anything and anybody – he is like the proverbial Nero who fiddles while Rome burns. The president, by his actions or actions, must not lend credence to or reinforce this view.
“Nigeria is in turmoil, the citizens are reeling from the unspeakable reign of terror clamped on the nation by terrorists and bandits who now operate freely, almost unchallenged. Nowhere is spared and no-one is safe. That’s the general feeling in the country.
“The least we expect from the president are robust and decisive measures toward arresting the drift to anarchy, not another round of foreign trips. The best the president should have done was to send a delegation,” he said.
Buhari can’t shelve foreign trip – Presidency
The Special Adviser to President Muhammadu Buhari on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, said yesterday that the president had to proceed with his scheduled foreign trip because one should never surrender to the antics of terrorists.
He reacted Wednesday to the criticisms that trailed the decision of the president to go ahead with his trip to participate in the International Development Association (IDA) for Africa Summit in Dakar, Senegal.
Adesina, while explaining the reasons why Buhari was travelling to Senegal, said: “Yes, the president should go because there is an international conference meant for heads of states and presidents, he should attend. You should never give in to terrorists.”
‘Attack a wake up call’
The Direct of the Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD), Dr Idayat Hassan, who has followed the landscape of the conflict across northern Nigeria for over a decade said, said the jailbreak brought to fire the danger ahead for the North West and North Central parts of the country.
Speaking to Daily Trust Wednesday evening, Hassan said the attack was a wake-up call to security agencies considering the expansion of terrorist groups to the area.
“We are aware of the movement of arms and men from ISWAP from the Lake Chad area to the North West in the last three months. They have already expanded to Zamfara and parts of Katsina. If you check the map and where they are operating it is not surprising that they did the Kuje attack.
“But the most frightening is the number of active cells of ISWAP, Boko Haram and Ansaru, which continues to grow in terms of their strength and capacity,” she said.
According to her, ISWAP or Boko Haram could be interested in freeing captives from Kuje considering important personalities held in the detention facility who could be close to either side of the now factionalized insurgents’ group.
Reacting, Professor Kamilu Sani Fage of Bayero University, Kano (BUK) said it was wrong of the president to have travelled out of the country at this critical time, adding that it was a political miscalculation on his part.
He said in other climes when a crisis like this or even less than this occurs and the president or head of government is out of the country as of the time of the occurrence, he will leave whatever he was doing and return to the country to attend to the issue.
The renowned political scientist said “Perhaps his (Buhari) handlers are trying to show that everything is okay and that he is on top of the situation but I think that is a political miscalculation for him to have jet out in this critical moment.
“For one, his presence would soften the impact on those who were affected because they will feel that there is a concern from the leadership and secondly, his presence might ginger certain kinds of actions such that the situation will be arrested or confronted head-on; but all these are left behind. So, I think it is wrong, it is bad for him to have left at this critical time.”