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How I hid like a rat when terrorists attacked Kuje prison – Abba Kyari

Recall that on July 5, terrorists attacked the Kuje correctional facility and freed over hundreds of inmates, including suspected members of Boko Haram.

Although there were rumours that Kyari and other “high profile” inmates escaped, Abubakar Umar, spokesperson of the Nigerian Correctional Service (NCoS), denied the claim.

Kyari, while moving another bail application through his lawyer, Onyechi Ikpeazu at the court session on Wednesday, told the court that he had the opportunity to escape but declined to do so.

He said the invasion of the correctional facility has established “a special and exceptional circumstance” that should warrant the court to release him and his co-defendant on bail, pending the determination of the drug trafficking charge.

“My lord, every living soul in this country will agree that there was not just a breach, but that there was a grand terrorist attack by an organisation that not only successfully invaded the Kuje prison, but took control of it for over three hours,” Ikpeazu said.

“However, the applicant, being a law-abiding citizen, refused to take off.

“If there is anything to establish that the defendants will not jump bail, it was that circumstance. The gates of the prison were left open for over three hours.

“In fact, the defendant hid like a rat, because the organisation that conducted the attack went from cell to cell, saying they want to take him and the others to the desert.

“I don’t know where else in the world, where certified crime fighters that have endangered their lives and abandoned their families to serve the country, are kept in the same cubicle with same criminals they made their arrest possible, with some of them facing death penalty.

“These people have suffered. They are traumatised by the events of that night. You can imagine what it felt like, witnessing the attackers planting explosives everywhere in the prison.”

The lawyer also said the defendants anticipated that the prison facility could be attacked, which was why they applied for bail previously but were denied.

He submitted that the defendants cannot interfere with the witnesses the prosecution intends to call.

“They cannot even have access to the two convicts that are presently under the protection of the powerful prison service,” he said

“Moreover, there is a constitutional presumption of innocence in favour of the defendants.”

Making his submission, Gboyega Oyewole, counsel to the second defendant, accused the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) of lying in their affidavit that no death was recorded, adding that a security operative was killed during the attack.

However, counsel to the NDLEA, Sunday Joseph, opposed the bail application, arguing that there is no proof that Kyari is being held with criminals.

Joseph added that no prisoner should receive special treatment in accordance with the law.

He also said there was nothing shown to the court that would cause it to alter its prior decision to deny the defendants bail.

“We, therefore, urge your lordship to refuse the application,” he said.

Meanwhile, Emeka Nwite, the trial judge, adjourned ruling on the defendants’ fresh applications for bail till August 30.

Kyari was, on March 7, arraigned alongside Sunday Ubia, Bawa James, Simon Agirigba and John Nuhu, who are members of the police intelligence response team (IRT), over allegations of drug trafficking.

Others are Chibunna Patrick Umeibe and Emeka Alphonsus Ezenwanne, who were arrested at the Akanu Ibiam international airport, Enugu.

Umeibe and Ezenwanne, who pleaded guilty upon arraignment, entered a plea bargain with the NDLEA and have been sentenced to two years imprisonment.

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