At least 371 out of the total 1,641 suspected kidnappers in Nigerian correctional centres have escaped within six months,  investigation has revealed.

The jailbreaks tracked occurred between March and October this year.

A list obtained by our correspondent from the Nigeria Correctional Service (NCoS) revealed that the 371 kidnappers escaped from two correctional facilities in Imo and Oyo states.

On October 23, 2021, gunmen invaded a correctional centre in Oyo and set free 837 inmates, out of which 104 were suspected kidnappers. Although NCoS said it had recaptured 262, it is not clear whether any of the kidnappers has been recaptured.

In an attack on a correctional centre in Imo State on April 5, 2021, 1,884 inmates escaped, 267 were kidnappers awaiting trial.

According to a list of kidnap suspects, which was compiled on March 18,2021, the Imo correctional centre has the highest number of kidnappers, 267; followed by Delta, 182; Taraba, 179; Katsina, 175; Akwa Ibom, 159; Edo, 126; Oyo, 104; Ogun, 81; Anambra, 66; and Enugu, 49.

Others are Zamfara, 46; Rivers, 40; Gombe, 30; Kano, 26; Bauchi, 24; Sokoto, 24; Osun, 18; Ondo, 15; Benue, 15 and FCT, 15.

The list also showed that 95 per cent of the suspected kidnappers, including those on the run, have spent over one year awaiting trial.

The Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, said a total of 3,906 prisoners who had escaped the nation’s custodial centres during various incidences of prison break were still on the run.

Aregbesola, during a recent ministerial briefing hosted by the Presidential Media Team at the Presidential Villa in Abuja, said a total of 4,369 inmates escaped from the centres from 2020 to date, adding that 984 of the number had so far been recaptured.  

He noted that the biometrics of all custodial inmates in the country had been taken, which he said would enable the escapees to be rearrested.

The minister said, “How long can they continue to run from the state? The state is a patient bird. You can run but you can never hide.

“We have their biometrics. Whenever and wherever they appear to transact any business, their cover would be blown open.

Vandalised vehicles in front of the attacked facility

However, a senior NCoS official said the rising cases of prison break in the country was connected to the keeping of criminals like kidnappers and robbery suspects in prison for a very long time without trial.

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