At an investigative hearing by the House of Representatives Joint Committee investigating the Kuje Custodial Centre attack, Interior Minister Rauf Aregbesola admitted, for the first time, that security agents failed in countering the terrorists.
The minister explained that out of the 888 escapees, 36 were on death row and 17 were on life imprisonment.
Aregbesola, who said the insecurity in the country called for grave concern, said the government caused none of them.
He said: “On the day of the invasion of (Kuje Custodial Centre), there was 31 military personnel of the Nigerian Army, five personnel of MPOL 21, five personnel of MOPOL 50, two personnel of the Counter Terrorism Unit of the Nigeria Police, two personnel of Kuje Police Division, seven personnel of Nigeria Immigration, three personnel of Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, and 10 personnel of correctional armed squad.
“These 65 people were there for specific responsibility of resisting and preventing any attack. And they were all armed. Because of the presence of the pressmen here, I would not tell you the grades of arsenals in their possession, but they were well armed.”
His comment led to a mild drama when the committee members debated on whether or not reporters should cover the hearing.
The short drama ended briefly with reporters being allowed to cover the proceeding
Aregbesola said: “On the night of the attack, Kuje accommodated 994 inmates out of which 64 were terror suspects, Boko Haram, ISWAP, and others. No fewer than 888 inmates escaped during the attack, among them were 554 awaiting trial persons. 71 were convicts, 36 were on death row and 17 were on life imprisonment and 106 refused to leave the facility during the attack. About 28 inmates who left the facility, voluntarily returned between the 6th and 15th of July.