Despite an earlier warning from the country’s intelligence service, the Kuje Custodial Centre in Nigeria’s Federal Capital Territory was attacked late Tuesday night, ostensibly in an attempt to liberate prisoners.
A prison source informed that the State Security Service had early on Tuesday, issued a warning about an imminent attack on Kuje prison. However, the source was unable to disclose the extent of the efforts taken to prevent the attack.
“Kuje jail is under massive bomb and armed attack,” a prison staff member told PREMIUM TIMES on Tuesday evening as the attack was being carried out.
In a further update, a source revealed that the assailants utilized three bombs and seized control of four entry and exit points.
The prison is located in the Kuje Area Council of the Federal Capital Territory, outside of the Abuja city center, 47 kilometers from the Aso Rock Presidential Villa, and 24 kilometers from the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport.
The prison holds dangerous offenders, including arrested Boko Haram militants, as well as high-profile public officials awaiting trial or previously convicted.
“Three weeks ago, a number of high-profile terrorists were transferred to Kuje jail,” a prison insider said, providing the earliest link that officials are analyzing to determine the attack’s motive.
According to a jail source, Kuje has a capacity of roughly 550 convicts but is now housing around 1000 detainees.
The custodial service requested and received reinforcements from the army, police, and SSS.
Also army deployed men from the 176 Special Forces Guards Brigade Battalion, Gwagwalada, officials informed.
The immediate effects of the attack are unknown, but officials suspect a terrorist motive to free dangerous convicts.
Recent prison raids in Nigeria’s Oyo, Plateau, Imo, and Edo states resulted in the illegal release of thousands of inmates.
Communities outside the city center of the FCT have grown increasingly vulnerable to violent crimes, including abductions alleged to be committed by terrorists, also known as bandits, operating in the Northwest and sections of the Northcentral region, which includes the federal capital.
Boko Haram insurgents are reportedly in possession of areas in the neighboring state of Niger, while the Islamic State West Africa Province has claimed responsibility for attacks in the neighboring state of Kogi.
On March 28, a train departing Abuja for Kaduna was assaulted near Katari by terrorists thought to be from Ansaru, a Boko Haram offshoot accused of working with bandits. The attack involved bombing and mass shooting, resulting in at least eight deaths and the kidnapping of over sixty travelers.
Approximately fifty victims are still being held captive more than three months later. The abductors have stated in video broadcasts that the government is aware of their demands for the captives’ release. According to intelligence sources, they are requesting the freedom of the Abuja-Kaduna train assault victims in exchange for the release of their imprisoned relatives.