By Edward EC
The Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola, says there are over 3000 inmates still at large following jailbreaks in Nigeria within the last year.
Speaking at a media briefing organized by the Presidential Media Team at the State House in Abuja on Thursday, Aregbesola further disclosed that 4,860 inmates escaped from various custodial centers from 2020 till date, and out of this, 984 have been recaptured.
This leaves the country with about 3876 inmates out of custody.
According to Aregbesola, biometrics of all inmates in the country have been captured, and it is the hope of the Federal Government that this exercise will aid the tracking and rearrest of the escapees.
The former governor of Osun State stressed that the recent attacks on some correctional facilities in the country are a reflection of the insecurity in Nigeria.
He explained that the government is on the trail of some of the attackers with a couple of them arrested in Imo State. The minister assured Nigerians that a ministerial task force will soon be inaugurated to enforce the re-arrest of all escapees and their collaborators.
Aregbesola’s comments come a few weeks after gunmen attacked the Medium Security Custodial Centre in the Abolongo area of Oyo State with an unconfirmed number of inmates escaping from the facility.
A few hours after the siege, the Federal Government said operatives had recaptured some of the inmates.
The Interior Minister in his reaction to the incident assured Nigerians that “the Federal Government will pursue not just those who attacked our facility, but those who have escaped lawful custody”.
Recall that TheCable News Medium reported in July this year that at least 4,307 inmates had escaped from prisons since 2017, based on compiled media reports.
In 2021 alone, more than 2,000 inmates were freed in two earlier jailbreaks: on Sept. 13 when 240 inmates were freed after gunmen attacked a detention facility in north-central Kogi State with explosives and on April 5 when at least 1,800 were freed in the southeast Imo state when another facility was also blown up.
Most of the recent jailbreaks in Nigeria seem not to be connected although the attacks are carried out in a similar manner with the use of explosives. Authorities have managed to re-arrest some escaped inmates, sometimes in neighboring states, while others return willingly.
A good number of those who have escaped in such attacks are yet to be convicted and still awaiting trial. Nigerian prisons hold 70,000 inmates but only about 20,000, or 27%, have been convicted, according to government data.