Suleja Jailbreak: 45 days after, 96 inmates yet to be recaptured — NCoS

Congested Warri prisons
  • To release photos of Suleja jailbreak fugitives in coming weeks
  • As police explain on-going crack down on journalists

The Nigerian Correctional Service (NCoS), on Thursday said that of the 119 inmates that escaped during the last Suleja jailbreak, majority 96 representing 80.7% of the fleeing inmates are yet to be recaptured.

The spokesperson of the Service, Mr. Abubakar Umar, who was responding to a question on the incident said only 23 have been recaptured.

Specifically, in April 2024, no fewer than 119 inmates escaped from the medium security custodial centre, Suleja, Niger State, following an overnight torrential rainfall that damaged the walls of the prison facility.

BAR & BENCH WATCH reports that for almost two months now, the Service has been promising to upload the images of the fleeing inmates to no avail.

Speaking on the incident at a joint press briefing of the security, defence and response agencies, at the defence headquarters in Abuja, Umar said the Service was planning to release the images of the inmates that are still at large.

According to him, “I want to say here that there is a concerted effort by the service to recapture fleeing inmates.

“I want to put on record that we have been able to recapture 23 escapes, so far. I want to also assure you that we are working hard to release the pictures of the fleeing inmates.

“We are working with other security agencies to enable us accomplish this task urgently. Our IT unit is working collaboratively with other relevant government agencies to get this done.

“This is a very sensitive matter and when we are dealing with issues of this nature, we must ensure that we cross check our facts very well before putting it out in the public space. This is the major cause for the delay.

“ We are ready to release the photographs of the wanted inmates. I can assure you that we have concluded the process and we are ready to unveil the pictures in the coming weeks.”

Also speaking on what the correctional centre was doing to reform the inmates before they leave the centres, Umar said that over 300 inmates were pursuing various classes of degrees, while six others were concluding their PhD programme.

On the number of inmates in their custody, Umar said: “As at this week, we have over 80,000 inmates under our watch and speaking about the facilities, we have 256 correctional centres across the federation.

Also speaking, the Director of Defence Media Operation, Maj. Gen. Edward Buba, explained that during the month of May 23 to Jun 24, the potency of the terrorists was largely degraded with 9,303 terrorists neutralized while 6,988 terrorists including their logistics suppliers and informants arrested.

He stated that 4641 hostages were rescued, stressing that notably, 9,562 Boko Haram/ISWAP combatant fighters and their families surrendered to security forces.

“In the fight against oil theft, 1,437 perpetrators were apprehended, with 363 neutralized.

“Additionally, 245 kidnapped hostages were rescued, leading to a marked improvement in prevention of crude oil theft.”

Other notable achievements in the last 12 months, he said, included the prevention of oil theft which denied the oil theft of an estimated sum of N91,247,052,565.10.

Also, the Nigeria Police Force (NPF), said that it is not under any obligation to invite any suspect before carrying out its investigation.

The Force Public Relations Officer (FPRO), Olumuyiwa Adejobi, who made this clarification, was responding to question on why the police were targeting journalists under the guise of Cyber Crime Act 2024.

Debunking the allegations that journalists were being targeted, the Police Spokesperson said, the application of Cybercrime Act 2024 is not aimed to witch-hunt, harass or oppress journalists as being alleged.

Adejobi said: “We are not under any obligation to even send invitation to a suspect. It is just a mark of respect. There is no law that says that the police must invite a suspect before carrying out investigation.

“We can only honour you by sending an invitation to you but when you fail to honour it, we would go to court and get a warrant and get you arrested. It is not that we are applying Cybercrime Act 2024 to witch-hunt, harass, or oppress you”.

He added: “Let me put it on record that if any petition is written against you as a journalist, I think the best thing you should do as a trained journalist is to honour the invitation and then get across to us in the public relations department.

“Most of these upcoming bloggers often contravene the law because they want to break the news first. You must crosscheck your facts before going public. When an invitation is extended to you by the police, honour it, we are all human beings”.

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