There was panic in the city after sporadic shootings shattered the Sunday morning serenity of Asokoro – home of the rich and powerful, including the Presidential Villa.
The SSS cleared the air when it announced that there had been an attempted jailbreak.
The detainee, who coordinated the failed jailbreak, died in the commotion. Some Boko Haram suspects and three SSS operatives were injured.
The SSS said 18 of the detainees were killed during the attempted jailbreak. Three, who were injured, died in the hospital. The service also said two of its operatives were seriously injured.
The SSS gave the breakdown in a statement by its Deputy Director, Public Relations, Marilyn Ogar.
The statement said: “Following our earlier releases, it has been established that eighteen (18) casualties were recorded, while two (2) Service personnel sustained serious injuries.
“Three (3) other detainees who sustained gun shot injuries during the incident have also died.
“Meanwhile, investigation is still ongoing to ascertain the immediate and remote causes. Any other detail will be communicated.”
A source, who spoke in confidence, explained how it all happened. He said: “When the detainees were to be served breakfast, the coordinator of the jailbreak broke his manacles and seized a gun from one of the operatives to liberate his colleagues.
“He shot sporadically and sprayed the facility at random, leading to the killing of some of his colleagues. In fact, the coordinator killed most of his colleagues. About 21 Boko Haram detainees died in the ensuing melee.
“Many other detainees and three SSS operatives were injured. But due to reinforcement, none of the detainees was able to escape.”
Responding to a question, the source said: “The coordinator of the jailbreak lost his life too during encounters with security operatives.
“Apart from mopping up the detention facility, security has also been strengthened based on the order of the Director-General of SSS, Mr. Ekpenyong Ita.”
The SSS Deputy Director, Public Relations, Marilyn Ogar said the jailbreak occurred during the breakfast session for the detainees.
She issued two statements. The first said: At 0715 hours, the Service suspect handler went to the detention facility within the headquarters to feed the suspects.
“One of the suspects attempted to disarm him by hitting him at the back of his head with his handcuff.
“His attempt to escape drew the attention of other guards at the facility who fired some shots to warn and deter others.
“The gun shots attracted the attention of the military with whom we have an understanding of mutual assistance in the event of any threat.
“The Army immediately deployed a team to reinforce our perimeter guards to forestall any external collaborators. The situation has since been brought under control. Further details will be communicated.”
The second statement said: “Further to my earlier statement, we wish to state that the roads leading to the office were cordoned off to prevent possible assistance from external collaborators.
“During this period, the precinct of the office and adjoining neighborhoods were thoroughly searched. Meanwhile, normalcy has returned to the area as the roads have been opened for free movement of persons and vehicles
“We wish to restate our commitment to the safety of the people and the Nigerian nation at large.
“Any other detail will be communicated.”
Heavy security had been built around the Presidential Villa and the Federal Capital Territory by soldiers with military helicopters deployed in the area.
There was suspicion that the jailbreak might be a prelude to a major attack on the Villa and Abuja.
A source said: “All military formations and security agencies have been put on the alert to ward off any aggression by the sect.
“The Villa is being heavily protected as I speak with you only to guard against any spill over. But the Villa is not under threat in any manner.”
As at 5pm, normal traffic had been restored to the SSS headquarters motorway and Villa precincts although some soldiers were still sighted around the area. The SSS launched a probe into the incident to determine whether there was sabotage or not.
Another source added: “The internal probe has started to ascertain if there was any culpability by anybody or group. This will involve grilling of surviving Boko Haram
“We are also trying to determine the real motives of Boko Haram behind the jailbreak. “We will get to the roots as soon as possible and whoever is involved will be dealt with.
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