IN THE security circle, the prison is described as a “self-sustained defended” facility with some resources to thwart attacks. But the vigil of armed personnel there had slipped into a groove in which they usually lowered their guard.
So, with a chill in the air one night in July, they were relaxed, unprepared for the coming danger despite the intelligence available to their office-based superiors warning of an attack. Suddenly, they heard a loud bang, then sounds of gunfire, pitching them into turmoil and panic.
Disoriented, having not prepared, they fled, making the attackers advance and ultimately deliver a successful operation barely challenged.
Terrorists attacked the Kuje Medium Security Correctional Centre in Nigeria’s Federal Capital Territory on July 5, with a cocktail of Improvised Explosive Devices and high-calibre weapons to free imprisoned fighters.
ISIS-aligned Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) claimed the attack, which intelligence sources and researchers familiar with the terror group’s setup said was carried out by the group’s Kogi cell fighters, aided by another terror group, Ansaru. A total of 879 of the 994 inmates escaped, and more than 400, including over 50 terrorists, remain at large, according to internal records.
Ansaru, or Ansaru al-Musulmina fi Bilad al-Sudan, headquartered in Kaduna’s Birnin Gwari area, is an Al Qaeda-aligned terrorist group that broke away from Boko Haram, or Jama’atu Ahl al-Sunna lid Da’wati wa al-Jihad (JAS), in 2012 following disagreements with founder Abubakar Shekau over methods and targets.
According to intelligence reports and human sources consulted for this investigation, terrorists that formed Ansaru were responsible for some of the high-profile attacks – including the August 2011 UN building bombing – claimed by Boko Haram before the split.