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About 300 inmates have been declared missing by the Nigeria government after an attack on Kuje Custodial Centre on Tuesday despite an early warning.
The attack, according to witnesses, started around 10 p.m. and lasted for over an hour before the security operatives repelled the terrorists, who accessed the venue using explosives.
“The inmates here are 994. We understand they are Boko Haram terrorists and came specifically came for their conspirators. Many of them are returned, some were retrieved from the bushes they were hiding right. We have retrieved about 300 out of about 600 that got out of the jail,” the Permanent Secretary of Ministry of Interior, Shuaibu Belgore, told journalists on Wednesday.
The attackers, suspected to be Boko-Haram members, stormed the facility in high numbers to rescue their co-conspirators.
Mr Belgore said the terrorists succeed after placing high explosives on different parts of the building walls.
“There have been several attacks on our facilities, most of them being repelled but every now and then there is one that they have succeeded. In this is one they came very determined with high explosives. The initial entry attempt was unsuccessful then they attacked another section of the wall with higher grade explosives which brought the wall down.
“The forces on ground did everything they could to repel them but the number they came with were high which they were not able to defend against. They kept on fighting gallantly unfortunately the breach happened,” the Permanent Secretary narrated.
While the number of the casualties from the part of the attackers and escaped prisoners was not revealed, the prison authorities said only an unnamed officer of the NSCDC died during the attack.
Apart from over four cars and big buses destroyed during the attack, PREMIUM TIMES can report that the high gate into the venue was also brought down by the explosives.
In addition to the figures earlier quoted by Mr Belgore, this newspaper witnessed the arrival of wounded prisoners retrieved by security operatives from surrounding forests.
This newspaper counted over 20 additional persons brought into Toyota Hilux vans as well as 16 passenger buses.
Some of the retrieved criminals were dripping of blood from injuries suffered while trying to escape.
Contrary to reports, a senior official of the prison, who preferred not to be named, said the Deputy Commissioner of Police, Abba Kyari, remains within the prison wall.
The official did not categorically confirm whether Mr Kyari’s cell was among those destroyed by the attackers.
“All I can tell you is that he is still here with us. He is a smart officer and those the terrorists came for a specific purpose,” the officer said after the departure Nigeria’s Minister of Defence, Bashir Magashi, who visited the correctional facility.
By definition, a standard medium prison which Kuje falls under, is a facility with cage-style housing, armed guards, and a much more regimented daily routine than minimum security.
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