The Kuje prison in Abuja was attacked on Tuesday by the terrorists who bombed the Abuja-Kaduna train on March 28 in order to set their members free, credible sources told the Daily Trust Wednesday.
One of the sources said the terrorists attacked the facility and freed their high profile members because their plan to use the abducted passengers of the Abuja-Kaduna train in exchange for their members was not yielding any result as the federal government was adamant.
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He said the Kuje Medium Security Custodial Centre was brought down using explosive devices that gave them easy access.
The source said in addition to the request for the release of their young children by the federal government in exchange for the Kaduna bound train captives, the terrorists, loyal to Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP), also demanded the release of some terrorists held in Kuje and some facilities.
“They discovered that their demands would not be met and therefore, they set out for full scale war,” he said.
He said they were also planning to attack the Special Tactical Squad (STS), formerly the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) headquarters in Abuja which they attacked in 2012.
Another source said vital intelligence provided by relevant agencies was ignored by those that matter, a development that gave the terrorists unfettered access to the Kuje facility around 10.30pm.
Apart from warders at the Kuje prison, there was a task force comprising the military, police, SSS and civil defence guarding the place because high profile criminals were kept there, he said.
“Sadly there are moles everywhere and therefore, even though the security operatives were alerted, the terrorists had their way,” he said.
“And that is why they perpetrated the nefarious act with precision. Some of them distracted attention of the security operatives by detonating many explosives outside the facility after destroying the main entrance, which gave a different group task with the responsibility of bringing out their members unfettered access.
“Those that gained access went straight to the cells where the Boko Haram members were incarcerated and set them free…There was no serious resistance,” he said.
The invaders reportedly used dynamites and destroyed the heavily fortified facility, including the Central Terrorism Unit (CTU), freeing all the terrorists there.
“Those freed would definitely unsettle Nigeria’s security architecture; they would disrupt peace unless something is done.
“And as you can see, the VIP section was not compromised because those incarcerated there were not their targets,” he said.
Another source said, “The attack at night was deliberate because they know we don’t have the capacity to resist invasion at night.
“They shepherded their members overnight and disappeared,” he said.
‘2 police operatives nabbed’
Daily Trust gathered that two police officers have been arrested after their communication with some of the escapees was intercepted.
“Two of the terrorists that escaped called a police investigation officer (IPO) in one of our stations and spoke to him in a compromising manner…They are now being investigated to know their level of complicity,” he said.
Other attacks loom
It was learnt that the terrorists were planning a deliberate and massive attack on the military detention facility in Kainji as well as the prisons in Bida and Minna.
“What they want to achieve is to set free members of the terrorist organisation who are detained in those facilities.
“They are planning to do this on Sallah day and unless something is done, it will come to pass,” he said.
I shared intelligence with govt – Negotiator
Mallam Tukur Mamu, a Kaduna-based newspaper publisher who has played an intermediary role with the train attackers said they hinted about the Tuesday night jailbreak.
He made the claim Wednesday in a statement issued to journalists in Kaduna.
Mamu said he had shared intelligence reports with authorities concerned but they allegedly failed to act on the information.
The publisher frowned at the failure of the government to respond to the group’s threat.
“I can confirm without doubt that the Kuje Correctional Centre attack was executed and coordinated by the same group that attacked the Abuja-Kaduna bound train because they gave indications of imminent attacks to that effect which I shared.
“For the records, they requested for the release of 51 of their members. But through the power of dialogue and engagement, I was able to single-handedly scaled that number to only 10 and communicated with audio backing the development to the relevant authorities.
“There was an unnecessary delay on giving them even a precise feedback by the government and now they have not only succeeded in carrying out another successful attack that indicts the nature of our intelligence and capacity to respond promptly but have also succeeded in releasing dozens of their members, which would have been averted if actions has been taken to give them only 10 and secure the release of the train victims,” Mamu said.
“In all this risky, painful and frustrating engagement, which government is yet to acknowledge and appreciate, I have more than 100 documented audios that I shared with the relevant authorities. For the purpose of this important press release and to authenticate my claims, I will also share four of the latest audios,” he said.
ISWAP claims attack, releases video
ISWAP Wednesday night claimed responsibility for the jailbreak.
The group had previously claimed responsibility for attacks on police and other facilities in nearby areas of Suleja and Kogi State.
In a statement posted on the Islamic State media channel, Amaq, the group stated: “Islamic State fighters invaded a government prison in Kuje, a suburb of Abuja, the Nigerian capital, where they destroyed the perimeter fence and successfully freed tens of prisoners, yesterday”.
The IS media platform later released a 33-second video with the sound of explosives and heavy gunshots. The attackers were jubilating and chanting Allahu Akbar.
Part of the video showed raging fire-consuming vehicles and parts of the building.
However, the Nigeria Correctional Service (NCoS) said that only four inmates were killed, 16 injured, while 443 escaped from the facility.
The corrections also dispelled the media report (not by Daily Trust) that DCP Abba Kyari and other prominent inmates have escaped, saying they are presently in custody, hale and hearty.
A statement by the Public Relations Officer of the correction, Umar Abubakar, said a total of 879 inmates escaped from the facility during the attack.
“As at the time of this report, 443 have been recaptured, 551 inmates are currently in custody, while efforts are ongoing to recapture all fleeing inmates.
“As at the time of the attack, we have 38 military personnel on ground in addition to the personnel of the Nigerian Police, Civil Defence, DSS, NSCDC and our Armed Squad. This is the minister’s efforts to rejig the security architecture of our facilities. The public is also informed that some of the attackers were killed while some escaped with gunshot wounds. We, therefore, appeal to hospitals and other medical institutions and practitioners to report anyone that comes to them for treatment for gunshot injuries to the nearest law enforcement agency,” the agency stated.
On his part, the Minister of Defence, Bashir Magashi, has said that all suspected Boko Haram members detained in the facility have escaped.
Speaking during an assessment tour, he said the facility was attacked around 10:30pm on Tuesday.
“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 a 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, “he said.
Also, during his visit, the FCT Minister, Malam Muhammad Musa Bello, directed traditional rulers in Kuje to work with relevant security operatives to apprehend all the escapees from the Kuje minimum correctional facility.
Malam Bello, who was at the facility Wednesday for an on-the-spot assessment, called on the Gomo of Kuje, Haruna Tanko Jibrin, to summon all traditional chiefs in Kuje Area Council to work with security agencies to fish out the escaped inmates from the communities.
While calling on members of the communities to provide appropriate intelligence to the security agencies to enable them to do their work, the minister expressed confidence that, with maximum cooperation from them, all those who escaped would be traced, found and brought back since no one could go into any community and blend without being spotted by members of such community.
By Ismail Mudashir, Baba Martins, Hussein Yahaya, Muideen Olaniyi, Hamisu Kabir Matazu, Joshua Odeyemi (Abuja), Eugene Agha (Lagos), Maryam Ahmadu-Suka (Kaduna) & Clement A. Oloyede (Kano)