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News and Society Expression Unfold

What I Saw @Kuje Prison By Sadeeq Shehu

Read Time:4 Minute, 16 Second

I visited the Kuje Prison for the first time yesterday to see for myself the scene of the attack and somehow put myself in the mind of the attackers in a kind of playback. I wanted to also see if I could identify some factors that might have contributed to the seeming ease with which the attack was carried out and assess how existing security measures in Kuje compare with what should be the standard for a facility of similar standing.


a. It is classified as a Medium Security prison meaning it is supposed to hold inmates whose escape would pose just moderate risk to community and /or inmates with moderate capacity to break jail. (A BHT/ISWAP/Ansaru terrorist is high risk and should be in a maximum security prison)

b. Kuje is designed to hold 560 inmates maximum but as at time of attack was holding some 1000 inmates ie less supervision

c. The main access road leading to the main gate is covered by trees and overgrown bushes such that one’s approach is effectively covered from sight of sentries at gate even in daylight not to say night

d. The outer perimeter wall is just about 6-7ft high as against recommended height of 8-15 ft.

e. Only one or two coil of razor wire placed on top of perimeter wall against recommended 3 coils one on top the other.

f. No second inner fence line once you are over the first perimeter wall you’re through. Prison buildings should have outer and inner fence lines with a clear zone of at least 10 yards in between

g. The walls of the prison (which attackers broke) is of ordinary cement and block instead of recommended 4 inch thick reinforced concrete wall or precast

h. There are two observation towers but not high enough with line of sight covered by trees and thick bushes . Additionally being positioned deep inside building instead of by the outer perimeter wall the observation towers cannot serve the intended purpose which is to be able to sight /engage with fire, intruders far off before they even reach outer perimeter or raise alarm.

I. A few cctv cameras on the towers (dunno if working) but such cctv should have been on the outer approaches.

m. I observed a few fixed stationery security lights around but preferably movable lights that are wired to motion sensors so that they come on and point to area of intrusion. I confirm light was off during operation which could be normal power outage, deliberate action or no standby power

n. On site Response force (according to NCS official who briefed press) is supposed to comprise 38 military, some unspecified police and civil defense and armed correctional service personnel but no clarity if these were on ground on particular day. Conflicting testimonies

p. The absence of any wounded or dead attacker left behind lends credence to the claim that all the armed defenders ran away without returning effective fire.

q. Facing outside from inside the prison, the left , right, and front approaches are all covered by thick grasses, bushes and a deep ravine valley to the right from which one could approach prison completely unobserved especially at night. The attackers came on foot via the valley to the right

r. The fact that attackers operated for between 1-3 hours (depending on source) and again left on foot without the defenders mounting a counterattack (after recovering from initial surprise) the fact that a divisional police station I sighted 2.5 km away couldn’t provide reinforcements, means there was no any contingency plan in place.

s. Mixing dangerous BHT inmates who ought to be in a maximum security prison with detained less dangerous politicians (Nyame Dariye Lawan Kyari) in same prison was against recommended practice for prison security of categorization and allocation of inmates and probably endangered the less dangerous politicians the attackers could have shot them just for the fun of it or abducted them


The lay out, design, physical security measures, procedural security measures , adequately well trained security staff at the Kuje prison all fall far below the required standard for prison security and safety management system.

The President has fittingly and rightly expressed his disappointment . This disappointment should lead to some heads rolling. The political leaders (both executive and legislative branches) have for too long shied away from holding heads of security agencies responsible and accountable for failures. High time PMB cracked the whip instead of calling them for endless repetitive meetings after each attack.

The President has also asked for a report. He will get a report but it will be a “cooked report “ as all the security agencies that usually don’t work together will now work together to cook a “cover my back I cover your back” report for Mr President.

Order An Independent Investigation defined as : a process where a neutral third-party is retained to investigate complaints or incidents, typically where some type of conflict or an allegation of conflict arises in the context of a workplace, organization, or institution.

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