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Prison break

More than 100 inmates escape after rain damages Nigerian prison

More than 100 inmates escape after rain damages Nigerian prison
Gate of the Kuje Medium prison in Abuja, Nigeria, 06 July 2022. EPA-EFE/STRINGER

ABUJA, April 25 (Reuters) - At least 118 inmates escaped from prison after heavy rains on Wednesday night damaged the facility in Suleja near the Nigerian capital, a prison service spokesperson said.

The downpour, which last several hours, wrecked parts of the medium-security prison, including the perimeter wall and surrounding buildings, spokesperson Adamu Duza said in a statement on Thursday.

Service agents were hunting the fugitives and had so far recaptured 10 of them with the help of other security agencies.

“We are in hot chase to recapture the rest,” Duza said.

He assured the public the authorities were on top of the situation.

“The public is further enjoined to look out for the fleeing inmates and report any suspicious movement to the nearest security agency,” he said.

Duza gave no details on the identities or affiliation of the escaped prisoners but in the past members of the Boko Haram Islamist insurgent group have been locked up in Suleja prison.

Prison breaks have become a major security concern in Nigeria where overcrowding, underfunding, and lax security measures have created conditions ripe for escape.

Thousands of inmates have escaped in recent years due to weak infrastructure and militant attacks, notably a July 2022 Islamic State attack on a high-security prison in the capital Abuja where around 440 inmates were freed.

“The Service is not unmindful of the fact that many of its facilities were built during the colonial era, and that they are old and weak,” Duza said.

He added that the service is making “frantic efforts” to modernize its prisons, including the construction of six 3,000-capacity facilities and the revamping of existing ones.

(Writing by Elisha Bala-Gbogbo;Editing by Alison Williams and Angus MacSwan)

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