SSS faces questions over jailbreak deaths
The State Security Service (SSS) faced questions yesterday on how 21 detainees were killed during an attempted jailbreak from their headquarters, with claims of a cover-up about exactly what happened, according to a report by AFP news agency.
The detainees, reportedly suspected Boko Haram insurgents, died Sunday after one inmate overpowered a guard and seized his weapon.
SSS spokeswoman Marilyn Ogar said in a radio interview yesterday: “All of the 21 were killed by... operatives of the DSS.”
“The investigation is still ongoing. We will determine who shot who and at what point and how many were shot by whom and for what reason,” she told the Raypower 100.5 FM radio station.
Ogar said the gun seized by the inmate had more than 90 rounds of live ammunition and that he had fired it sporadically.
Gunfire heard for hours in and around the SSS headquarters were simply warning shots in case the detainees had outside help, she added.
When Daily Trust contacted Ms. Ogar to explain the exact circumstances of the deaths recorded, she declined further comments.
The Presidency played down the incident but several media outlets questioned the official version of events.
A report on Premium Times website questioned why so much heavy weaponry was required to subdue one inmate.
AFP reported that any security breach at SSS headquarters would be an embarrassment for the government but even more so if it involved Boko Haram, which has been waging a violent insurgency in the North since 2009.
Nigeria’s military has been under pressure about the effectiveness of its strategy to tackle the insurgents in the face of an upsurge in violence that is estimated to have left more than 1,500 dead so far this year.
Amnesty International on Sunday claimed that some 600 Boko Haram suspects may have been killed after a jailbreak at a military detention facility in Maiduguri, Borno State on March 14.
The human rights monitor quoted witnesses as saying that the military summarily executed hundreds of escapees. The military had said dozens escaped.