Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola, says over 61,000 Boko Haram suspects are in prisons across the North-East geo-political zone.
He disclosed this while charging security agencies manning the custodial centres across the country to remain vigilant and on alert to enable them to defeat criminal elements terrorising the country.
Aregbesola spoke on Tuesday during his surprise visit to the Kirikiri Maximum and Medium-Security Custodial Centres in Kirikiri, Apapa, Lagos State.
Aregbesola was quoted in a statement by his media aide, Sola Fasure, to have said, “We must equally charge them to remain eternally vigilant and continuously evolve strategies. And to define these strategies, we have to make decisions based not on fear, but on hard-earned wisdom.
“I have also informed our officers and men here that they must fight to defend our institutions, territory and constitution.
“It also applies to all others wherever they are posted in Nigeria. The ragtag groups of opportunists must not be allowed to attack our institutions and get away. They must not live to tell the story,”
On Tuesday last week, over 800 inmates, including 64 Boko Haram suspects, escaped when gunmen attacked the Medium Security Custodial Centre in Kuje.
Aregbesola, however, said Nigeria was already taking steps to totally defeat Boko Haram terrorists and other criminals elements in the country.
He stated that many of the criminal elements have been arrested, especially in the North-East.
The Minister said, “Today, a core of the criminal elements and insurgents across the country is on a path to defeat, they have been heavily degraded. Over 61,000 of them are in our custody in the North-East.
“Our assurance to Nigerians is that we shall rise above these challenges and emerge stronger and more resilient.”
Aregbesola also directed that the management of the NCoS should intensify efforts on intelligence gathering and acting on such information garnered.
He said doing so is the solution to the problem of incessant custodial centre attacks.
He added, “So far, no jailbreak by inmates has been successful, we have successfully quelled all of them.
“What we have reoccurring since the #EndSars protests of October 2020, has been a mass of people attacking our facilities from outside and setting the inmates free.
“However, I have now directed the Controller General of the NCoS to double his efforts on intelligence gathering to fortify and prevent breaches to the custodial centres beyond the use of arms and force.”