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Terrorists Attacked Kuje Prison Despite Major Security Beef Up, Says Interior Minister

The Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola, says the Federal Government had fortified security in all correctional centres in the country before the recent attack on the facility in the nation’s capital.

He said this in a statement on Thursday by his media adviser, Sola Fasure, in reaction to the attack on the Medium Security Custodial Centre in Kuje, Abuja.

Aregbesola stated that the government had taken the initiative to beef up security at the correctional centres at a time when the country witnessed incessant jailbreaks, including the facility in Oyo State.

“After the Abolongo, Oyo State, attack on a correctional facility in October last year, it became apparent that a new form of attack for which our system was not prepared for had emerged,” the statement said.

“Our system was primed to prevent and foil internal disturbance and riots, not external attacks/invasion since the facilities were usually built around police and military formations. The minister then directed that the Nigerian Correctional Service (NCoS) urgently works with other security agencies to fortify all correctional centres in the country and insulate them against future attacks, among other measures introduced.

“This was carried out as well-armed soldiers, police and Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) officers were drafted to our facilities nationwide, to secure them against further attacks. Several but unsuccessful attempts were made to attack our facilities since then, as the armed guards repelled them on each occasion.”

Aregbesola, who said he had been briefed on the invasion of the correctional facility in Kuje, stated that the security officers on duty fiercely engaged the attackers and inflicted a heavy casualty on them.

He confirmed that the security operatives were overpowered by the invaders, adding that one of them was killed while calm and normalcy have since been returned to the centre.

Preliminary investigation, according to the minister, indicates that the Boko Haram terrorists may have been responsible for the attack as the NCoS, in conjunction with other security agencies, work to bring back in the escaped inmates.

“We are working with the Ministry of Defence and the Office of the National Security Adviser, as well as other intelligence and security agencies to ensure that the attackers and the escaped inmates are captured and returned to custody,” the statement said.

“As we speak, security personnel are combing the whole area, up to a distance of 100 kilometres radius, looking for them. All checkpoints nationwide have been put on alert. More than 400 of them have been brought in and more are still coming. We appeal to all residents to be calm but vigilant.

“Security is a collective work between government and the citizens. Kindly, therefore, report all suspicious individuals and activities to the nearest security agency around you. We appeal also to doctors and medical workers to treat and then immediately report anyone with gunshot wounds to the law enforcement agency.”

The minister has also directed that all correctional facilities in the country be fortified and that all personnel be vigilant and alert to avoid a recurrence.

He asked that a full investigation into the incident be carried out and be briefed as soon as possible, stressing that appropriate actions would be taken should any complicity be established.

Aregbesola pledged to continue to strengthen all correctional facilities and keep Nigerians safe at all times.

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