Over 100 inmates escape Nigerian prison after heavy rain damages facility

More than 100 inmates have escaped from a prison in Nigeria near the capital city of Abuja after overnight heavy rains destroyed parts of the facility, a prison official said Thursday, as authorities searched for the fleeing prisoners. The downpour, which lasted for several hours on Wednesday night, damaged the perimeter fence of the medium-security prison in the neighboring town of Suleja, in Niger state, “allowing a total of 118 inmates to escape from the facility,” according to Adamu Duza, a prisons spokesman. The prison service and other agencies have managed to recapture 10 of the escaped inmates while the search continues to find the rest, Duza said. There are fears that they could make their way into the vast forests that connect Suleja town and neighboring states, some of which are known hiding places for criminals. In addition to being overcrowded with 70% of the inmates still awaiting trial, most prisons in Nigeria are old, having been built during the colonial era before the nation’s independence from Britain in 1960. The structures are rarely renovated, which has made it easier for inmates to escape during past jailbreaks. Thousands of inmates have escaped from prisons during such jailbreaks, including Abuja where nearly 900 inmates broke free in 2022. The authorities are making efforts to rebuild the structures and modernize the aging facilities, Duza said.