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Kuje Prison Attack: Of Sitting Ducks And Lame-duck Government


Why Kuje Prison Attack Was Succesful - Dambazau

An earlier call by the Islamic State on its members and affiliates to work towards freeing their members in government prisons should have been enough signal for a sensible country buffeted by ISWAP to fortify its prisons or at least move terrorists being held in a medium-security prison to a secure facility. Not Nigeria and the lethargic government she has been yoked with. Aside from this warning in the public domain, Nigeria’s intelligence agencies maintained by the taxpayers should have more actionable intel on what terrorists in Nigeria were up to. Why their plot to carry out a brazen attack on a supposed fortified facility in the Federal Capital Territory was not averted is a tar that can never be washed off the current administration.

Assuming that the intelligence agencies failed to live up to their raison d’etre, how about the intelligence shared by Tukur Mamu, the media aide to Sheikh Ahmad Gumi, regarding the impending attack on Kuje Prison by Ansaru terrorists? Nigerians on Wednesday woke to the news that terrorists on Tuesday night bombed the Kuje Medium Security Custodial Centre, Abuja. During the invasion of the facility guarded by dozens of soldiers, secret service operatives, police officers, and Nigeria Security and Civil Defense Corps personnel, the terrorists released 600 inmates. Reacting to the development, Defence Minister, Bashir Magashi, disclosed that all the 64 Boko Haram terrorists being held at the facility escaped. The Islamic State of West African Province Islamic State of West African Province (ISWAP) has since claimed responsibility for the attack, releasing a 30-second video clip of its gunmen setting ablaze vehicles parked on the premises.

The Buhari government can’t help putting itself in a pillory on account of its actions and inactions. Yet, the sharp assertion of Hanlon Razor cuts through, “never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity”! It’s not as if the government does not know that ISWAP is on a rampage in the country. In fact, when terrorists carried out the bloodbath on a Catholic Church in Owo, Ondo State, which is far removed from their playground, the federal government quickly blamed the attack on ISWAP. The terrorist organization also claimed responsibility for the bombing and kidnap of Abuja-Kaduna train passengers. It’s, therefore, beyond Nigerians how the Islamic States’ release charge was not enough motivation for the authorities to do the needful. As bad as it is that citizens have become sitting ducks for terrorists to prey on, it is outrageous for government installations and establishments to also become easy targets.

The bombing of Kuje prison came barely hours after the convoy of cars carrying President Buhari’s advance team of security guards, protocol, and media officers were attacked in Dutsinma, Katsina State. This attack on the sovereignty of Nigeria happened almost the same time terrorists killed an assistant commissioner of police in a separate attack around the same Dutsinma general area. Nigerians can still remember the early morning attack on the Nigerian Defence Academy in Kaduna on August 24, 2021, when terrorists stormed the staff quarters killed two officers, abducted one, and injured some others. The victims were all senior officers from the rank of Lieutenant upward. These and several other escapades of the terrorists have gone on unchecked by the state as if it is now accustomed to sharing sovereignty with the terrorists. This is absolutely unacceptable!

Naija News expects that the attack on the Kuje Custodial Facility will be the watershed, where the government will declare that this far no further. Although he gave his strongest reaction yet to the atrocities of terrorists when he visited the scene, President Buhari should have gone beyond platitudes into sacking those who allowed the breach to happen. We are surprised the President could not even save face by shelving his trip to Dakar, Senegal, for the International Development Association for Africa summit. How could he stand other African leaders after tweeting: “I am disappointed with the intelligence system. How can terrorists organize, have weapons, attack a security installation and get away with it? I am expecting a comprehensive report on this shocking incident.’’

It is our considered view that addressing the posers raised in his tweet is more beneficial to the country than whatever gains are expected from the Dakar summit. This is more so as the first 48 hours are critical to resolving a crime, let alone an act of terror. We insist that it is poor judgment and misplacement of priority for a President who just had 64 terrorists melt into his backyard to head for another country immediately. In better-run societies, the President would have quickly moved to instill confidence in the citizenry and then lock himself in an operational command centre with his security apparatchik until the escapee inmates are returned to prison with the masterminds arrested.

By choosing to fly to Senegal instead of rolling up his sleeves for the emergency situation in Abuja, Buhari has again shown that he is more about the perks of office rather than the actual work of governance. Buhari must be reminded that he is the Executive President, not an Imperial Monarch with the luxury of an up-and-about Prime Minister doing the heavy lifting. Nigeria operates a presidential system, not a parliamentary system, for crying out loud. One of the factors that propelled his emergence as President in 2015 was his military provenance. It is, therefore, a major letdown that under the nose of a famed General, national security will degenerate to the point where terrorists riding on bikes can spend over two hours in an Abuja fortress and successfully extricate their members from government custody. Under Buhari’s watch, 12 prison attacks have been recorded since October 2020 up till now. These are custodial centres that the Interior minister, Rauf Aregbesola, noted were deliberately sited within police and military formations. Yet, terrorists can have free reign to invade and evacuate their members. The threat prison break poses to society and the populace can be seen in the fact that the South-East has not known peace since the Owerri prison breach.

In a manner of better late than never, Buhari returned from his all-important trip to Senegal and held a meeting with security chiefs on Friday. Going by what such previous meetings translated to, Nigerians may remain sitting ducks with a lame-duck government. We recall a disappointed Buhari telling heads of security agencies during their meeting three months ago that they were not doing enough to end the security challenges despite the enormous logistics provided by his administration. Buhari, according to the National Security Adviser, Babagana Monguno, frowned that his previous directives to the military to end insecurity in the country had not yielded the desired results. Nigerians haven’t been safer since this stern presidential rebuke was issued during the April 21, 2022, National Security Council. It has further deteriorated that another governor serving under the platform of the President’s APC, Gov Bello Matawalle, has joined the call for citizens to bear arms and defend themselves against bandits.

While expressing disappointment over the attack on Kuje correctional centre, another senior member of the President’s party, Senator Ali Ndume, who chairs the Senate Committee on Army, said, “I’m sure if there was a proper response that day, those people would have apprehended or neutralized as you call them. But there was no proper response, and they said it lasted for hours into the time they were attacked. No support from anyone”. The lawmaker went on to point out, “The responsibility of the government is the security and welfare of its citizens. And then you have leaders responding as if it (insecurity) is a casual thing and not their responsibility”. Naija News demands that Buhari lives up to his responsibility and the oath of office he took to protect the lives and property of citizens at all costs! With his legacy on the line, the President can’t allow Nigerians to remain sitting ducks at the mercy of terrorists.

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