How Nigeria Plans to Recapture Escaped Prison Inmates

July 15, 2022

A prison break is only fun when it happens in a movie. It’s actually a horror show when prison inmates break out into the streets in real life.

Ever since a mob attacked two prisons in Edo State to liberate nearly 2,000 inmates in October 2020, there have been similar prison attacks in Imo, Oyo, Plateau and Kogi

The Boko Haram attack on Kuje prison in Abuja joined this infamous list on July 5th, 2022,  freeing hundreds of inmates, including convicted terrorists, from custody. 

The trend of prison attacks has left more than 4,000 escapees loose on the streets of Nigeria.

ALSO READ: What Just Happened in Kuje Prison?

Prison management is the responsibility of the Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola, who’s rightfully worried about the unrelenting attacks. While speaking at a retreat in June 2022, the minister said the government is working on new strategies to complement the old ones in ensuring every escapee is returned to custody.

How’s the Nigerian government planning to recapture thousands of escaped prison inmates?

Releasing their pictures to the public

The most obvious way to make hiding difficult for escaped inmates is to make their faces public enough so they can’t move around freely. The success of this strategy is heavily reliant on the cooperation of members of the public who the government expect to report sightings of escapees. This is how many inmates, including some from Kuje, have been recaptured

Coordinating with Interpol

Everyone in Nigeria wants to japa — even prison inmates. This is where Interpol comes in, to catch prison escapees trying to flee the country to live happily ever after. 

Aregbesola also promised that Nigeria will continue to strengthen its coordination with Interpol to block the japa wave of fugitives.

Tracking their digital footprints

Another one of Nigeria’s strategies for recapturing escaped prison inmates is by tracking their digital footprints as they move around. This involves a collaboration between the government and financial institutions (e.g. banks). The government uses agencies like the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) for this purpose.

Keeping efficient DNA bank

This is one of the government’s newer strategies to have greater control and ease the process of recapturing escaped inmates. Aregbesola said the government will make the DNA database of inmates more efficient. This will make their tracking and identification easier when they escape. The minister has been vague on how this will work.

Begging them to return

When all else fails, the Nigerian government isn’t too ashamed to beg escaped inmates to make their job easier for them by just surrendering. Such public pleas are usually served with a side threat that basically says, “Surrender before I have to find you!” 

These pleas are also sometimes accompanied by promises to never prosecute them for escaping prison which is a crime on its own.

ALSO READ: Why Nigeria Is Accepting Deported Criminals to Keep UK Safe

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