Two notorious kidnappers who abducted and killed a society lady, Mrs. Edith Chinedu Aliyu, have escaped from the Medium Prisons, Kuje, Abuja, in a daring jailbreak on Friday evening. This is as some prisoners rioted over the sharing of alcohol in the Kirikiri Female Prison in Lagos.
It was gathered that the two Kuje inmates, Maxwell Ajukwu and Solomon Amodu, used a plank to scale the high wall of the prisons while Muslim inmates were breaking their Ramadan fast at 7pm.
Our correspondent gathered that the two escapees were part of a gang who abducted the lady and killed her after raping her.
The daring escape set off reports that the leader of the Movement for the Emancipation of Niger Delta, Charles Okah, had escaped from the Kuje Prisons, but the Prisons Public Relations Officer, Francis Enobore, described these as untrue.
Our correspondent gathered that one of the escaped inmates, Ajukwu, converted to Islam some weeks ago, apparently to exploit the lax security system in the prisons during the ongoing Ramadan fast.
A security source said, “The two kidnapping suspects escaped and left their colleague behind. What happened was that one of them, from the South-East, converted to Islam some weeks ago while in prison when he observed that the prison officers allowed Muslim inmates to stay late against standard prisons rules.
“Normally, the inmates are locked up in their cells by 5pm every day, but the prison authorities decided to extend the time till 8pm to enable the inmates break their fast and pray.
“Preliminary findings show that the two inmates escaped at a point near the chapel in the prisons, which was usually guarded by a prison officer, but he (the officer) did not come to work on Friday and nobody was posted to secure the place.”
Meanwhile, another source, a top prison official, who spoke with SUNDAY PUNCH on condition of anonymity, said the Kuje inmates exploited a “weakness” in the prison system.
He said, “Normally, inmates are not supposed to be outside beyond 6pm to 6.30pm daily. But the officer in charge of that prison, who takes money from the inmates, allows them stay till 9pm or 10pm.
“What happened was that some of the inmates, who had studied the lapses, decided to use them to plot their escape when it was dark. After they finished breaking their fast on Friday, they put up a ladder on the wall and jumped out. They had fled before the management noticed.”
CP detains two personnel
SUNDAY PUNCH also learnt that two armed prison officers of the prison service (armed squad team) who were supposed to be on guard duty outside the prison wall did not report to work during the jailbreak.
It was learnt that the Federal Capital Territory Controller of Prisons, Daniel Ehindero, had ordered the detention of the two officers in Kuje prisons.
In July 2015, the FCT Command of the Department of State Services arrested Amodu, Ajukwu and two others over the abduction and murder of Dr. Aliyu in the Gwagwalada area of Abuja. Vanguard had reported then that the Assistant Director in charge of Operations at the command, Mr. Ibrahim Halilu, said the late Aliyu, who was the proprietress of Chelston Group of Schools and Chief Executive Officer of Grants Micro Finance Bank, had been kidnapped at her residence on June 29.
“They (suspects) murdered and buried her in a bush after Yangoji Village, along Kwali-Lokoja Expressway two hours later for recognising one of them,” he said.
Halilu had said the suspects admitted that they committed the crime and had agreed to lead operatives of the command to where they buried Aliyu’s corpse to be exhumed. He added that one of the arrested suspects was the driver to the deceased who masterminded the kidnapping and murder of his employer.
The DSS boss had said, “On June 30, the kidnappers contacted her relations and demanded N5m for her release. On July 6, the sum of N2m converted to $11,500 was dropped off for the kidnappers around Obajana Road, Lokoja, Kogi State by the relations without informing the service. Consequently, the service initiated measures which led to the arrest of the four kidnappers.”
In an interview with journalists, the suspects, who confessed to kidnapping the victim, said she was killed by one Douglas, who they referred to as Douggy.
Ajukwu, 41, a graduate of Economics from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, reportedly confessed to the kidnapping of the victim.
He had said, “We kidnapped her but we never had any intention of killing because the driver said we should kidnap her. She slumped on the way to where we were taking her.
“The driver said since she had seen our faces, it was better we killed her. The person who killed her, Douglas, is not here. We dug the grave, Solomon and I. She recognised me but she did not know me very well. The driver took me to her house two days before the incident. He took me there as a spy to know the environment.”
Ajukwu had said before the abduction, he worked as a private teacher in Gwagwalada. He said it was one Sunday Jacob that initiated the plan and funded the kidnap.
Amodu, 32, who said he was a 400-level student of Geography at the University of Abuja, confessed to have participated in the killing of Aliyu. Amodu admitted to driving the get-away car after the kidnapping, saying, “When we picked the woman, as we were going, we removed our masks around a check-point and the woman recognised Maxwell as the man her driver brought to her house. She slumped as she saw Maxwell’s face and, in the process, they asked me to look for an untarred road to park. It was there Douggy asked me to tie her hand and he strangled her. That was how she died.”
The gang members were then charged for murder and kidnapping at a Federal High Court in Abuja.
Soldiers grumble over deployment in prisons
Sources said the prison authorities were mystified by the disappearance of the two inmates, despite the presence of many soldiers around the perimeter of the prison.
Our correspondent who visited the prison observed armed soldiers at strategic locations around the facility, but sources within the NPS said the soldiers were not happy with their deployment in the prison.
“The soldiers always grumble over their posting to the prisons and they informed the authorities that they were at the prison to defend it against external attacks and that anything that happens inside the prison is none of their business,” a source stated.
It was learnt that though there were about 200 NPS personnel at the medium prison, many of them did not report for duty, particularly female officers.
We gathered that many illicit practices, including selling and smoking of hemp by inmates, were going on in the Kuje prisons.
A source told one of our correspondents that early this year, a junior officer was stopped at the prison gate by a guard who saw him carrying a ‘Ghana must go’ bag filled with hemp.
The Prisons PRO, who confirmed the jailbreak, said the Controller General of Prisons, Ahmed Jafa’aru, had dispatched a team to the prison to carry out preliminary investigations. He noted that any staff member found culpable would be made to face the full wrath of the law.
Female prisoners riot over alcohol in Kirikiri
Meanwhile, a source in the Kirikiri Prisons told our correspondent on Saturday that there was a riot at the female prison.
According to the source, a senior prison official had brought in alcohol for some of the inmates on Friday.
He said trouble started when the drink did not go round, which led to a protest as the other inmates insisted on having their share.
He said, “Last night (Friday), a female officer of the rank of Prison Assistant 2 brought in alcohol for the inmates. Unfortunately, it didn’t go round and the others started demanding their share. The warders tried to settle the case but it went out of hand, as the inmates resorted to rioting. They sang protest songs, shouted and threw stones.
“They insisted on seeing the officer in charge, who had not been around for the past two months. The deputy OC was also not around to settle the case. They said they wanted alcohol legalised. There has been serious tension in the prison, even as I speak to you.”
Reacting to the Kuje Prisons jailbreak, a security analyst, Mr. Segun Elijah, said, “A single person cannot break out of prison and run away; in most cases, they get the support of prison officials, especially in Nigeria where everything is sellable.”
A member of American Society of Industrial Security, Prof. Femi Adegbulu, also told one of our correspondents that no jailbreak would occur without someone in the prisons service being involved.