BusinessDay

The Kuje jail-break: Another low moment for Nigeria (1)

Given the seriousness of this discourse, we wish to kick off with a brief reference to an almost forgotten aspect of our country’s chequered history. In a previous era, a former Army Chief of Staff, Lieutenant General Ibrahim Salihu in a fit of exasperation, remarked that the Nigerian army had become an army of anything goes. At that point in time, a bewildered nation could not readily appreciate that, in a broader sense, the situation was bound to get worse.

Against this background, it is possible to state here that given the recent jail-break in the Kuje Correctional Facility and other similar incidents, we may as well build on the assertions of Lt General Salihu that, beyond even the Army, ours is a country where-anything goes. This deposition, as unflattering as it may sound, is rooted in a measure of the grim and uncontested reality which hall-marks our perilous security situation. It is instructive to contend that, under the watch of President Muhammad Buhari (PMB), such is the state and spate of unsavoury incidents in the area of security that, it is possible to say that PMB and his team have lost it and are indeed clueless. Moreover, PMB and his team are pitifully on the defensive in this critical area of our national life.

What has given credence to these assertions are the series of security breaches, which make us to wonder about the relevance or indeed irrelevance of the Nigerian State in the critical area of security. Such are the brazen and audacity of terrorists and other counter – cultural forces that, early on Tuesday, July 5, 2022, bandits armed with sophisticated weapons, ambushed the presidential advance team in Dutsinma, Katsina State, which incidentally is the home-state of PMB himself. The attack is thus something of a double-whammy.

However, it must be noted that the Kuje incident is really in a class of its own, this is in view of its proximity to the seat of government. Indeed, it seems that for the terrorists, the brazenness deepens by the day

One of the most visible symbols of Nigerian State, the Presidency was violated with impunity; and even then, as if to worsen matters, on its home-ground. The dire situation is clearly indicative that, there is indeed an endless low to which the Nigerian State had sunk. This is because, on that same dark and fateful day, other bloody and nerve-wracking security breaches occurred around the country. Very early on that morning, bandits again armed with general purpose machine guns and AK47 rifles also ambushed an Assistant Commissioner of Police, Aminu Umar’s team in Zakka zone of the self-same Katsina State. In the process and on a repeated basis, these criminal elements had the upper-hand by killing Umar and another officer. This dastardly occurrence must have prepared the grounds for the attack on the presidential convoy.

However, what arguably takes the cake as regards these seemingly uncoordinated incidents is that, on that same day, heavily armed terrorists besieged the Kuje Correctional Service in the Federal Capital Territory for three hours. In the course of this exercise, 879 inmates were forcibly freed, including 64 Boko Haram suspects. Although some of these inmates have been recaptured, yet the situation remains grim since the implication of this untoward incident is that, at the moment, and as we write, out there, are some hardened criminals who have been let loose on society, thus ensuring a worsening of the security situation in the country.

At this point in time it is necessary for us to step back a bit and indulge in some contemplations as regards this latest jail-break. The first point to note here is that under the watch of PMB, jailbreaking has become something of a routinized issue. So routine that public sensibilities are now accustomed to this major security lapse. It is useful to remember here that on the platform of the PMB regime, jail-breaks have escalated in the last three years. Places like: Jos, Kano, Owerri, and Oyo-Oke-Ogun come readily to mind here.

However, it must be noted that the Kuje incident is really in a class of its own, this is in view of its proximity to the seat of government. Indeed, it seems that for the terrorists, the brazenness deepens by the day. When they are not hitting Katsina, the home state of PMB, they are laying a siege on him in Abuja, his official base.

Interestingly enough, a number of conspiracy theories have been flying around on the social media about this Kuje incident. Principal among these, is that organs of the state are indeed hands-in-glove with these marauders, since by the time the Correctional Centre was attacked, very little resistance was encountered. Some have even gone as far as to state that, what was witnessed at the Kuje Correctional Facility was some form of informal swap arrangements in which Boko Haram suspects would be freed and subsequently in due course, the hostages of the Kaduna – Abuja train incident will also be granted freedom.

On our own part, we would not want our imagination to run this far. Still in a country, where as pointed out earlier, anything goes, it is almost impossible to foreclose any option – no matter how outlandish this may seem.

However, we remember here that General Theophilus Yakubu Danjuma, a member of the Nigerian ruling class, openly and authoritatively declared in a fit of near-hysteria that the Nigerian security forces, collude! Till date, there has been no single rebuttal to this ominous contention of this top military brass, who is still very much an integral part of the Nigerian establishment.

On this note, matters have hardly been helped by the antecedents of the current super-structure of the Nigerian state itself. On previous occasions and in an earlier era, the body language and utterances of this prime social force, seem to suggest that the bandits, terrorists and Boko Haram suspects are free to do whatever they like in the social formation called Nigeria.

Read also: Kuje jail break: Security beefed up around Lagos prisons

Little wonder, therefore, that as far as security is concerned, the lows continue to pile on one another with no end in sight. It is like an endless tunnel in which the legitimate custodian of security i.e. the status-quo is not prepared in any meaningful way to embark on the needful. Indeed, the specific and compelling response which Nigerians earnestly look forward to, in these dire times is purposeful and objective leadership. Thus far, this is not forthcoming. Rather, the dismal and unpalatable menu being served to Nigerians border on the casual and care-free. Or how else can we for instance explain the rather lackadaisical attitude of the President to the Kuje incident and other similar episodes.

As regards the former, for instance, in the high noon of this dastardly incident, the President merely made a whistle-stop at the Kuje Facility. Subsequently, he headed for a summit in Dakar whose importance to him, on the scale of priorities has more verve, when comparisons are made with the Kuje incident.

Meanwhile, and till date, no one, yes!, No one in the hallowed orbit of officialdom has been queried or cashiered as regards this disgraceful incident, which along with other similar happenings pose grave and even fatal dangers to the existence of this country.

And in saying this, we make bold to say that in the light of the grim and evolving realities, it is not only the economy that is poised for recession; the Nigerian State itself can also be deemed to be in recession. And as such matters go, since nature abhors a vacuum, it is possible to say here that as the State continues to recede, the ensuing space gets filled by other elements – bandits, terrorists and Boko Haram adherents whose aspirations are clearly at odds with a wholesome and prosperous Nigeria. Indeed, the talk out there, though unsubstantiated, is that these elements with the collusion of prime insiders of the Nigerian State, seek to supplant the state itself.

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