By Suzan Edeh
BAUCHI—FIVE persons comprising a soldier, policeman, two prison warders and a civilian were, Tuesday night, confirmed dead following an attack on Bauchi prison by members of an Islamic sect, Boko Haram, while 759 inmates at the prisons were set free.
Among the inmates who escaped from the prison were all the 123 Boko Haram members.
Meantime, Bauchi State Governor, Isa Yuguda, has warned members of the sect to leave the state or be flushed out.
Bauchi State Police Commssioner, Alhaji Danlami Yar’Adua, who briefed newsmen on the incident, yesterday, said: “As I am talking to you, the attackers killed one soldier, one policeman, two prison warders and one civilian who were hit by stray bullets. Four others are presently receiving treatment following the attack.”
The police commissioner, however, said that from records available, 759 inmates at the prisons were released adding that among them were123 Boko Haram sect members awaiting trial following their arrest last year.
He added that 10 of the inmates had returned to the prisons on their own as well as other prisoners who had escaped, Tuesday night.
Danlami Yar’Adua said that his command has commenced investigations into the incident while quite a number of those who were involved in the attack had been arrested.
The commissioner said: “Searches are on to get others but we will not disclose what we are doing now. At the appropriate time we will brief you on the latest development but for now the situation is under firm control.”
While assessing the extent of the damage done to the prison facilities, the Controller General of Prisons, Olusola Adigun Ogundipe, who was in Bauchi, described the attack as unfortunate.
He said it was a surprise package by the attackers who overpowered the few armed squad of the Prison Service and forcefully gained entrance into the main prison yard.
Capacity of Bauchi prisons
Ogundipe lamented that the Bauchi prisons which had capacity for only 500 inmates accommodated 759 inmates at the time of the attack.
He, however, noted that at the time of his visit 50 of the inmates including ten Boko Haram members had returned on their own to the prisons, adding that more security measures would be taken around all the prisons in the country to forestall future occurrence.
The Prisons boss added: “There are a few vulnerable prisons in the country including Maiduguri, Gombe and Azare. We have increased the presence of armed security operatives there in order to ensure that there is no repeat of what happened here at these places. We are working in conjunction with other security operatives who are really complementing our security efforts.”
Bauchi State Governor, Isa Yuguda, who was one of the early callers at the Prison lamented the incident. He said: “All of us were caught unawares by the attackers because they came at the time nobody was expecting considering that we are in the holy month of Ramadan when all true Muslims are expected to be fasting and not engage in anything that will lead to the shedding of blood. Government will prioritise issue of security in the state to ensure that innocent lives are not lost again as well as check the activities of all criminals in the state.
“Let me warn all Boko Haram members to steer clear of Bauchi and relocate outside this country or be prepared to face their waterloo.’’
The Emir of Bauchi, Alhaji Rilwanu Suleiman Adamu, who also reacted to the attack described it as an unfortunate happening at a period when Moslem faithful were observing the compulsory fasting of the holy month of Ramadan as well as barely hours to the celebration of the successful ending of the thirty days fasting.
He called on the people of Bauchi to regard it as an act of Allah, adding: “By the grace of Allah this is the last we will see of the Boko Haram sect. We will work with the government as well as other security agencies to ensure that this does not happen again.”