July 9, 2022

Jailbreaks and season of one week, one trouble 

Jailbreaks and season of one week, one trouble 

President Muhammadu Buhari

By Dirisu Yakubu

For President Muhammadu Buhari, it is now a season of one week, one trouble. Far from the optimistic disposition of many Nigerians seven years ago when he was first elected President; Mr. Buhari is fast losing the confidence of Nigerians many of whom now question his capacity to protect them from the evil campaign of mad terrorists.

But Buhari, despite the fortified walls of the Aso Rock Presidential Villa needs help himself. Times and again, armed men bent on displaying their effrontery have attacked Katsina, the home state of Buhari when the latter was in town. Earlier in the week, they successfully attacked the advance convoy of the President on its way to Daura ahead of Buhari’s visit for the 2022 Eid-el-Kabir celebration.

Read Also: REVEALED: Kuje prison attackers were led by ex-terrorist inmates who knew every location

As the federal government under the watch of Mr. Buhari continues to assure Nigerians of its preparedness to rid the nation of murderous elements; suspected gunmen believed to be members of the Boko Haram sect have in the past few years, demonstrated their resolve to ridicule Buhari and millions of Nigerians.

In frequent attacks on the nation’s correctional facilities, no less than 6,000 inmates have “regained” their freedom since the coming on board of the Buhari administration.  

Barely a year in office on June 19, 2016, 13 inmates escaped during a jailbreak at the Koton Karfe Correctional Centre, Kogi state. Two months later (August 9, 2016), 15 fled the Nsukka correctional centre, Enugu following attack on the facility by gunmen.

On June 3, 2018, gunmen in their numbers attacked the Medium Security Correctional Centre in Tunga area of Minna, the Niger state capital, freeing over 200 inmates.

Who will forget in hurry the October 19, 2020 attacks on the Oko and Benin Correctional centres which led to the escape of an estimated 1, 993 inmates? Three days after the Edo incident, gunmen stormed the Okitipupa correctional centre and let go of 58 inmates.

On April 5, 2021, armed men took their trade to the Owerri Correctional Centre, Lagos, freeing about 1,844 inmates. So sad was the development that Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola described it as the worst in the recent history of the country.  

The Kabba Correctional Centre was their next target as in September 2021, gunmen struck, opening the gates for the escape of 250 inmates.

A month later, it was the turn of the Abolongo Correctional Centre in Oyo state as an attack on the facility led to the escape of about 837 inmates. Of the number, the federal government later claimed it had recaptured about 262.

On Tuesday night, terrorists suspected to be those protesting the continued detention of their members by the federal government stormed the Kuje Medium Security Custodian Centre, in the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, paving way for the escape of 68 dreaded Boko Haram members.

The latest attack no doubt brought untold embarrassment to the federal government as Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and President Buhari visited the centre to access the level of damage. But what exactly do these attacks portend for a nation battling challenges on all fronts?

Retired Commissioner of Police, Lawrence Alobi told Saturday Vanguard exclusively that the nation’s security agencies are now completely overwhelmed with the challenge of protecting lives and property of Nigerians. Speaking specifically on the attack on Kuje prison,   Alobi wondered why the intelligence units in the various agencies couldn’t nip the attack in the bud.

“I want Nigerians to know that the attack in Kuje was completely embarrassing. How could gunmen operate for hours, almost unchallenged in the nation’s seat of power? There is the intelligence unit in the Police, Army, Department of State Services and what have you? Their work is to sniff out potential criminals bent on causing trouble and stop them in their track. Where were they when this attack was happening?,” he asked.

The former Commissioner of Police, FCT Command did not stop there as he decried the condition of service particularly in the Nigerian Police Force, saying “we are always quick to blame the police for everything but do we have enough manpower in the force? Do they have functional operational vehicles? This is 21st century and crime across the world is being fought with technology today.  

“Do we have Close Circuit Televisions, CCTVs manned in strategic locations to help the policeman to do his work? If there were functional CCTVs, the gunmen would have been identified even before they came close to the correctional centre to wreck havoc. Government must invest in security now and harvest the reward later.

“We must understand that security is everyone’s concern. We are all involved. As a result, Nigerians should learn to disclose information to the relevant authorities for prompt action. This information can go a long way to make them proactive rather than reactionary as we have seen in recent times.  

“There is the need for close collaboration and synergy. If the various security agencies had worked together, there is no way that attack would have succeeded the way it deed. It does appear there are bad eggs in the system and they must be fished out and punished accordingly,” he added.  

Renowned security expert, Kabir Adams agrees with Alobi that the nation’s security forces have not been offensive enough in the fight against incessant jailbreaks and insurgency.

He said: “We are facing a situation where non- state actors have been emboldened by previous successes in   the attacks they carried out against the state and are now attacking bigger   and more strategic targets. To change this, we need to as a state, deal a blow to this boldness by denting their resolve. This can be achieved through going after them in their strongholds, using intelligence to profile them and to identify their weakness in order to exploit it and then taking action to reduce or prevent their mobility.”

In his contribution, certified golden member, International Security Association, Switzerland, Jackson Ojo blamed the Nigerian system for the successful attack on the Kuje prison facility, arguing that the tragedy could have been avoided.

“It is a shame that the President’s advance party was attacked and same week, Kuje was stormed by the criminal elements. In both tragic events, people died. No nation will respect Nigeria anymore and it is not surprising that the United States of America has already warn her citizens not to visit Nigeria in the wake of these events.

“Why is the Minister of Interior still in office? What is the Minister of Defence still doing there? Why are the heads of intelligence agencies still keeping their jobs? Why have they not sacked the Inspector General of Police? The bigger tragedy is the fact that heads would not roll. I know nothing will happen and none of these guys   will resign.

“Now, let me ask a few questions: Why were Bolo Haram members kept in a medium security facility instead of maximum prison centres? Why were they not spread across the many prisons in the country which would have prevented this attack from happening? And how comes the terrorists came in their numbers, operated for ours without a challenge? We are in a deep problem in this country.

“It was a good thing that the President visited the centre and expressed disappointment with the security and intelligence units but what has he done ever since? He has jetted out again but who goes out when his house is on fire?, he asked.

Taking a different position is Anthony Sani, immediate past Secretary General of the Arewa Consultative Forum.  

According to him, the attack on the Abuja correctional facility is not an indication that the Buhari-led government is losing the fight against terrorism, saying, “this is precisely because losing a battle does not amount to losing the war.”

Hear him, “Would you say killing by mass shooting during the last celebrations of American independence on July 4 in Chicago amounts to American government losing the war against mass shooting?Certainly no.

“But I share the view that the security agency did not do a good job by not providing sufficient security for the Kuje prison, knowing full well the terrorists who ambushed and kidnapped passengers from a train going to Kaduna from Abuja recently hinged the release of the abductees on release of their members in the custody of the security agencies. More distressing too is that the security agents could not chase the ISWAP who went away with large number of their members.”

With a few months to the 2023 general elections, there is palpable fear in the land that voters may be scared of coming out to cast their ballot is the situation is not addressed. Abuja, the nation’s seat of power is gradually becoming the preferred city of criminals of all variants even as the police struggle to curtail their evil trade.  

Vanguard News