Suleja jailbreak: We’ve recaptured many fleeing inmates — Minister


The federal government revealed on Thursday that some of the fleeing inmates from the Suleja Custodial Centre have been recaptured and are now back in custody.

Minister of Interior, Dr. Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo, made this known in Abuja when he led top officials of the Ministry on an inspection of the ongoing rehabilitation and security projects at the Medium Security Custodial facility in Kuje, Abuja.

Tunji-Ojo, who did not provide the number of fleeing inmates recaptured, noted that security agencies are on the trail of all the escapees from Suleja Custodial Centre following the collapse of its perimeter fence during a downpour last month.

He expressed the commitment of the Federal Government towards the safety and welfare of inmates across the over 250 custodial centres in Nigeria.

The Minister added that the Federal Government is putting all measures in place to make the Correctional centres safe and fool-proof against attacks, maintaining that Correctional centres are national assets that must be protected.

He expressed satisfaction with the level of work at the Kuje Medium Security Custodial Centre, which was badly affected during the terrorist attack in 2022.

The rehabilitation work included the building of an additional two high perimeter fences, installation of solar lights to provide illumination, and other security gadgets. The Minister also talked about the government’s efforts to decongest the Custodial Centres across the country, citing overcrowding as one of the challenges the current administration is tackling.

Statistics obtained from Kuje Custodial Centre on Thursday indicated that a total of 880 inmates are being held in the facility, which has a capacity for only 560 inmates. A total of 34 inmates are on death row, while 699 are awaiting trial and 181 are convicted.

Tunji-Ojo said, “I’m happy with what we are seeing, the level of security, and what is going on here. There was a jail attack at that time, and we know the damage that was done.”

He noted that shortly before he assumed duties as Minister of Interior, the former administration had conceived the idea of fortifying the Correctional facility, adding that he has given priority to the project due to the urgent need to ensure that all custodial centres in Nigeria are fool-proof against attacks.

He thanked President Bola Ahmed Tinubu for approving the intervention fund for the expeditious execution of the project, which according to him, would make Kuje Custodial Centre a model in the country. “As you can see, the perimeter fencing is completed. What we are just doing is to install solar lights on both sides to provide illumination to secure this place.

“Basically, it is not just about Kuje. I’m happy to tell you that we are working to rehabilitate nine of our Correctional centres, not just the fencing but even the structures inside. When we went inside, we saw the level of our IT solution, all our inmates have been enrolled, the environment is cleaner and more decent, and of course, in the next couple of weeks, we are very optimistic that there will be a complete turnaround in Kuje, which is going to be like a model for all other Correctional Centres.”

“This is to show that the renewed hope agenda under the watch of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu cares about everybody, cares about security, cares about our inmates, and cares about making Correctional centres correctional in nature and not condemnation centres.

“We are renovating, not just putting in infrastructure but providing skill acquisition. You saw us, we went to the poultry. The Nigerian Correctional Service is diversifying and putting efforts into producing what inmates eat. So, we are looking at that to be able to rely less on purchases.

“With what we have, we can assure Nigerians that we are not resting, even in Suleja where the wall came down, the government was already building a 125-bed Correctional centre beside it to solve the problem of overcrowding and congestion in our Correctional Centres.

“We are putting everything in place to ensure that our Correctional centres are safe, fool-proof against attacks, and national assets that must be protected. We are also looking at the welfare and well-being of our inmates,” he said.