A group of heavily armed men raided Kabba’s jail, in south-central Nigeria, and blew the perimeter fence freeing 240 detainees. The attackers started a gun battle with guards on September 12 at the medium-security prison at Kabba in Kogi state, said the spokesman for the Correctional Service, Francis Enobore. Almost everyone in the prison was able to escape.
The gunmen destroyed three sides of the prison’s perimeter fence with explosives and then overcame a team of 35 security officers, officials said. Enobore told that two correctional officers were killed during the ambush, and the interior ministry pointed out that two other guards are still missing. Other sources report that they have killed four soldiers and injured plenty of others.
Haliru Nababa, Nigeria’s controller general of corrections, has taken charge of the investigation and ordered all the inmates to be recaptured while appealing to the public to aid. It is unclear who the gunmen were, but central and northwest Nigeria have been terrorized by criminal gangs and violent armed groups for years. A paramilitary group known as the Eastern Security Network has been blamed for the attacks but has denied any responsibility.
At the weekend, in a separate incident, a military base in the northwest Zamfara state was also hit and Gunmen killed 12 Nigerian security forces.
A recurrent problem
In Kabba’s jail, a 200-inmates capacity prison, a total of 294 prisoners were in custody at the time of Sunday’s attack. 224 were pre-trial detainees and 70 convicted, the prison service confirmed. In the country, suspects can spend years in pre-trial detention, prisons are often overcrowded, legal procedures inefficient and security forces overstretched.
Large prison outbreaks are common in Nigeria. This latest jailbreak comes months after the brazen strife on April 5. Back then, gunmen raided Owerri police headquarters in Imo State, freeing around 1,844 detainees.
In February 2012, dozens of gunmen bombed their way into a prison in Kogi state’s Koton Karfe, freeing 119 captives and killing a warden. This attack was claimed by the Boko Haram group who stated that they had freed their members. This jihadist group, who launched an insurgency in northeast Nigeria in 2009, have frequently pounced prisons to free their fellows.
Nigeria is battling a decade-long insurgency in the northeast, expansion of armed gangs in the northwest, communal conflicts in central regions separatist tensions in the southeast, and piracy in the Gulf of Guinea. Mass kidnappings across the northwest are also another huge challenge in a country that is rapidly being consumed by turmoil. In 2021 alone, at least 127 police and security personnel have been killed in the region and dozens of police stations have been razed.