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Dozens escape from Nigerian prison after rainstorm chaos

The West African country’s security authorities say they are in “hot” pursuit to recapture them

More than 100 inmates have escaped from a prison in Nigeria after heavy rains caused extensive damage to parts of the facility, prison authorities of the West African nation reported on Thursday.

Adamu Duza, a spokesperson for the Nigerian Correctional Service, said in a statement that the “heavy downpour” that lasted several hours on Wednesday night destroyed the perimeter fence of the medium security custodial center in Suleja, Niger State, allowing 118 inmates to flee.

“The service has immediately activated its recapturing mechanisms, and in conjunction with sister security agencies, has so far recaptured 10 fleeing inmates and taken them into custody, while we are in hot pursuit to recapture the rest,” Duza stated.

The authorities have blamed the incident on the “old and weak” condition of the country’s prison infrastructure, constructed during the colonial era before Nigeria’s independence from Britain in 1960.

Thousands of inmates have reportedly escaped from Nigerian prisons in the past, including in the capital, Abuja, where nearly 900 inmates broke free in 2022.

READ MORE: Dozens escape from prison in island state

A report on human rights practices in Nigeria published on Tuesday by the US described conditions at prisons and detention centers in Africa’s most populous nation as “harsh and life-threatening due to gross overcrowding.”

According to the 2023 report, many of the facilities built 70 to 80 years ago had 50% more inmates than their designed capacity as of last September.

In the statement on Thursday, the Nigerian Correctional Service said it is “making frantic efforts to ensure that all aging facilities give way to modern ones.”

April 26, 2024 at 08:10PM

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