By Augustine Ehikioya
Worried by increasing security challenges in Kogi State, the government has said that political saboteurs and terrorists are responsible.
It pointed out that Monday’s jailbreak at Kabba Medium Security Correctional Facility was as a result of top Boko Haram Commanders and other high profile suspects who were brought to the centre, while their colleagues decided to strike to free them.
Security Watch Africa (SWA) on Friday gathered that the Commissioner for Information, Kingsley Fanwo, made the remark during an interaction with security reporters in Lagos.
Confirming that the government received intelligence report of planned attacks on facilities in the State, Fanwo said action was immediately taken and that 20 soldiers were deployed to beef up security at the correctional centre.
“There was an intelligence before that attack and we worked on it quickly by informing the necessary agencies who assured that security would be tightened there. At the time of the attack, there were supposed to be more than 20 military personnel at that point.
“The other factor that led to that attack was because there are high profile criminals held there. Our security agencies will have to do more in dealing with these issues. When you keep Boko Haram suspects or those that have been convicted in such a place, you should know that their collaborators will want to do everything possible to set them free not only for the sake of solidarity, but they know that the more the inmates are with you, the more information you are going to have about their activities.”
He went on “Everyone in Nigeria today knows Kogi State is one of the safest states. It is not that we do not have flashes of crimes here and there; it is that we have a system that can deal with that promptly and adequately.
“I will not want to give details of the intelligence here but we know that there are certain politicians who are desperately mobilising criminals to forment trouble in Kogi State so that they will say is that not the man they call best in security? The State is being disturbed by criminals, so what will he flaunt again?
“We are not crying here; we are solidly on top of our security game. So, we are expecting them and will deal with the situation accordingly,” he said.
According to him, the State government has learnt vital lessons from the jailbreak that would propel it to review, rejig its security architecture to fashion out ways it can deploy personnel to secure Federal agencies.
On steps taken by Governor Yahaya Bello to rewrite Kogi’s security story, Fanwo said, the government in 2016 purchased 240 patrol vehicles to empower agencies who before then, could not patrol the 21 Local Government Areas (LGAs).
“He discovered that security agencies were not able to move around the State because of lack of patrol vehicles. We bought 240 patrol vehicles which we assigned 10 to each LGA and the agencies were able to patrol the nooks and crannies of the State.
“We also incorporated local vigilantes and hunters into our State security architecture who work in synergy with security agencies. We discovered that the locals were not giving information to the Police for fear of being implicated. The governor put in place method which the locals can give out information without being betrayed.
“Security agencies were also empowered with hi-tech gadgets to monitor activities of criminals and these helped a lot.
“Also, we took concrete steps to stop ethnic profiling and treat criminals as what they are. By doing this, we were able to get all stakeholders on-board and leaders of various groups are invited for periodic meetings and they assist security agencies in fishing out suspects,” he said.