SSS faces ques­tions over jail­break deaths

Daily Trust - - FRONT PAGE - By Ron­ald Mu­tum, with agency re­port

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.

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