NIGER: 119 inmates escape as rainstorm destroys Suleja correctional centre fence

Suleja correctional centre

ONE hundred and nineteen inmates escaped from the Medium Security Custodial Centre in Suleja, Niger State, after a thunderstorm wreaked havoc on a section of the facility late yesterday.

“A heavy downpour that lasted for several hours on the night of Wednesday, 24 April 2024 has wreaked havoc on the Medium Security Custodial Centre, Suleja, Niger State, as well as surrounding buildings, destroying a part of the custodial facility, including its perimeter fence, giving way to the escape of a total of one hundred and nineteen (119) inmates of the facility,” the Deputy Superintendent of Corrections Command Public Relations Officer, FCT Command, AS Duza, said in a statement this morning.

But he said efforts have been ramped up to recapture the inmates with 10 of them so far retaken into custody.

“The Service has immediately activated its recapturing mechanisms, and in conjunction with sister security agencies have so far recaptured 10 fleeing inmates and taken them into custody, while we are in hot chase to recapture the rest,” he said.

According to him, the facility was built during the colonial era and is old and weak. He, however, said efforts are on to bring the facilities up to date.

“This is evidenced in the ongoing construction of six (6) number of 3000-capacity ultra-modern custodial centres in all the geo-political zones in Nigeria as well as the ongoing reconstruction and renovation of existing ones,” he said, asking the public to provide information and report “any suspicious movement to the nearest security agency”.

The torrential rain damaged parts of the building and exposed the facility’s inner fence, which covers one of the cells where inmates were housed.

A resident of Suleja town, Babangida Turaki, told newsmen that the rains had knocked down a section of the fence that was being repaired.

He stated that a combined security reinforcement returned some of the escaped detainees. According to him, the team has been dispatched to key locations and black areas in Suleja town to apprehend the escaping inmates.

Although the search for some of the convicts continues, normalcy has since restored to Suleja.

The development comes as the federal government increases attempts to decongest the country’s jail facilities. In November, it announced plans to release 4, 068 detainees nationally.

According to Minister of Interior Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo, the project is aimed at impoverished offenders who cannot afford to pay their penalties.

He stated that the Federal Government has raised N585 million to be utilized to pay fines for the release of 4,068 convicts across the country.