*Attributes frequent jail breaks to global season
*Says Japa syndrome causing high passport demand
*159 Nigerians renounced citizenship in 2022 alone
*Govt issued 1.7m passport last year
Deji Elumoye in Abuja
The federal government, yesterday, disclosed that there had been attempt to break into Nigeria’s other correctional centres after that of Kuje in July, 2022, stressing, however, that the perpetrators had been sent back to their maker.
Speaking at a media briefing at the State House, Abuja, Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola, stated that those, who attempted to break into another of the country’s correctional centers after that of Kuje had been neutralised.
Over 400 inmates went missing after the Kuje correctional center attack last July with four inmates, a security guard and several attackers reportedly killed after the prison was targeted.
On what is being done to ensure the facilities no longer come under further attack, Aregbesola said, “We are doing the best we can to ensure, one, that it will be difficult for anybody to attack our facilities. You may not know that some had attempted and we have sent them back to their maker. Just take it, it is no longer game as usual.
“We are equipping our men to on their own, defend those facilities. And those sister agencies are equally upping their capacity to protect and defend our facilities. And we’re improving the design of our facilities to make it almost impregnable.
“So it’s sad, we are not happy that the facilities are… but it’s a function of the season and we will be deceiving ourselves if we don’t admit. There is this popular maxim from school: ‘Tell no lies, claim no easy victories‘. It’s not mine. So, we are up to it. So, whoever attempts to dare our will, will not live to tell the story.”
The minister, who did not disclose which of the correctional centers the attempt was made, said no inmate in the country whose biometric has not been captured, saying it would be impossible for the escapees to hide henceforth.
Asked what was responsible for the high number of prison breaks in the country, especially, the most daring one being Kuje, he said, “It is the season. Don’t say ha! I know you don’t want to hear it. Have we had what we are having in Nigeria today before? It is the season and it’s global.
“Why are we having assassinations in America? Bad as it is, it is horrible but in America, people get killed every second. In California within the last one week, 20 people have been killed. Did you ask why? It has nothing to do with technology, it could even be linked to climate change.
“When things are hard, people who cannot manage their own stability resort to those type of things. You can’t say there is no terrorism in Nigeria, we are managing it. You can’t say there is no banditry in Nigeria, we are managing it. It is because of the level of insecurity in Nigeria and we are rising to it. It is as simple as that.
“The question you are asking, you know the answer. There is tension. Nigerians, just like the rest of the world, were kept incommunicado for 90 days straight. Let’s not look at COVID-19 alone, the remaining 120 days were on and off. Don’t you think that those things will have impact on the society.
“And in any case, how to assess as government is this: What did you not do? As at today, there’s no single inmate of our facilities that is not captured biomedically and that is the best we can do. We’re still working on DNA, which is another way of identifying them.
“We have met with all agencies, institutions that can use the biometric we have to trace and arrest them. They are doing their best. The most effective agency in capturing them is still the police force. They are doing wonderfully well.
“The technology that we expected will be effective in capturing them is not as effective. Like I would normally tell people, they can only run, they cannot hide! If they go out of circulation for now but because they cannot change their biometric, whenever they come out, they will be exposed and therefore arrested if they have not died.”
Asked how many inmates were still missing, Aregbesola said, “Many. There are very many. For details, the CG will tell you but if I say many, what’s essential is what steps did we take?None of the inmates of our facilities either awaiting trial, or convicted are without their biometric capture…If we have your biometric you are exposed.
“There is no international airport that you will go to today that you will not have photographs of all these people. They are on our website, papers carried them, they are on social media platforms. So, what I am saying is this, it is our collective efforts.
“If we’re all committed to it, in no time, we’ll get them back, every government is patient, government is more patient than the vulture because government is not tired of desperation and government will only cease to be when the world ceases to exist. For that reason, they will be identified, apprehended and brought back to where they should be.
“One of them attempted to be too clever. After realising that he has one more month to stay, returned by himself. He thought with that we just leave him to go. No. We have taken him back not to where he escaped from but to another place. We have taken him to the magistrate court, we charged him for fleeing from lawful custody.
“That is a separate charge. He is not going to be free from what he has done, he will spend everyday he escaped from the correctional center as a given punishment. He had thought that by coming back he will only stay for one month and be released. This is to tell you that we are not as lax as you assume. We are taking every step to ensure that whoever attempts to dare our will pay squarely for it,” he explained further.
Commenting on infrastructural upgrade of the Correctional Centres, the minister said: “There has been massive infrastructural upgrade across Custodial Centres since the inception of this administration.
The minister who also revealed that 297 projects were monitored and evaluated within the period under review, stated that it is constructing a world class Custodial Center in Kano that would house about 3000 inmates when completed.
Aregbesola, who claimed the massive exodus of Nigerians out of the country in search of greener pastures was fueling high demands for passports, said in 2022, the Immigration Service issued the highest number of passport booklets totaling 1,899,683 in over seven years.
In the same vein, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, Dr Shuaib Belgore, disclosed that at least 159 Nigerians renounced their citizenships in 2022 alone, adding that 150 Nigerians renounced their citizenships between 2006 to 2021.