PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari has expressed shock at the “scale and audacity of the attack” by gunmen on the Kuje Prison in Abuja.
A statement released by Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, said Buhari visited the prison on Wednesday, hours after it was attacked by suspected Boko Haram members on Tuesday night.
Kuje is 33 kilometres (20 miles) from the heart of Abuja, Nigeria’s capital.
According to the statement, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Interior, Shuaib Belgore, briefed the President about the attack upon his arrival at the prison.
The Controller-General of the Nigerian Correctional Service (NCoS) Haliru Nababa, led Buhari on an inspection of bombed-out sections of the facility and the records office which was set ablaze by the attackers.
Buhari, according to the statement, asked a series of questions during the visit, including: “How did the defences at the prison fail to prevent the attack? How many inmates were in the facility? How many of them can you account for? How many personnel did you have on duty? How many of them were armed? Were there guards on the watchtower? What did they do? Does the CCTV work?”
The President expressed disappointment with the Service’s intelligence system while speaking with journalists at the scene.
“I am disappointed with the intelligence system. How can terrorists organize, have weapons, attack a security installation and get away with it?” Buhari said.
Buhari demanded a “comprehensive report” on the incident.
The NCoS officials informed the President that 63 terrorists kept at the facility escaped during the attack.
Buhari was also informed that although the gunmen set the prison records office on fire, there was a backup that was still intact.
The NCoS officials also informed the President that 350 escaped inmates have been rearrested, while about 450 others are currently at large.
Buhari was accompanied on the visit by Boss Mustapha, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, and Professor Ibrahim Gambari, his Chief of Staff.
Meanwhile, the statement noted that Buhari would still proceed with his scheduled visit to Dakar, Senegal, on Wednesday, despite widespread criticism from Nigerians.
“Governments don’t stop working because nations face terrorist threats. To cancel the trip to Senegal would mean that the terrorists are successful in calling the shots, something that no responsible government in the world will allow,” the statement said in response to the criticisms.
The ICIR reported that five persons died in the latest attack on prison facilities in the country.