No fewer than 371 out of the total 1,641 suspected kidnappers in Nigerian correctional centres have escaped within six months.
According to Daily Trust, the 371 kidnappers escaped from two correctional facilities in Imo and Oyo states between March and October this year.
On October 23, 2021, gunmen invaded a correctional centre in Oyo and set free 837 inmates, out of which 104 were suspected kidnappers.
Although the Nigerian Correctional Service said it had recaptured 262, it is not clear whether any of the kidnappers was recaptured.
Also, in an attack on a correctional centre in Imo State on April 5, 2021, 1,884 inmates escaped, 267 were kidnappers awaiting trial.
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. A list of kidnap suspects, which was compiled on March 18, 2021 revealed.
Also, 95 per cent of the suspected kidnappers, including those on the run, were said to have spent over one year awaiting trial.
The Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola, had disclosed that 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, had 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.
The minister explained that the biometrics of all custodial inmates in the country had been taken, which he said would enable the escapees to be rearrested.
“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,” he said.
However, a senior NCoS official said the rising cases of prison breaks in the country were connected to the keeping of criminals like kidnappers and robbery suspects in prison for a very long time without trial.
The official said, “They (kidnappers) are kept in various correctional centres for years awaiting trial. This always gives them opportunity to establish contacts with their gang members who mostly attack the prisons and set them free.
“Until we get it right, this will continue unabated. So, it’s high time for the government to do something about these criminals, because keeping them without trial is like setting them free, indirectly. We are tired of keeping them here,” he added.