The Nigerian Correctional Service (NCS) says 1,844 inmates escaped on Monday after gunmen attacked its facility in Owerri, Imo state.
The correctional centre and the police command headquarters in Owerri were attacked in the early hours of Monday.
The police alleged that the invasion was carried out by the Eastern Security Network, an outfit of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB).
According to a statement issued on Monday, Francis Enobore, public relations officer (PRO) of the NCS, said six inmates have voluntarily returned to the facility, while 35 refused to escape from custody during the attack.
“The Owerri Custodial Centre in Imo State has been attacked by unknown gunmen and forcefully released a total of 1,844 inmates in custody,” Enobore said.
“The attackers who stormed the facility at about 0215hrs on Monday 5th April, 2021, gained entrance into the yard by using explosives to blast the administrative block.
“They were said to have arrived the centre in their large number in several Hilux pick-up vans and Sienna buses, armed with sophisticated weapons and immediately engaged the security personnel on duty in a fierce gun battle. They eventually detonated the explosive to gain entrance.”
Enobore added that John Mrabure, the acting controller-general of corrections, has ordered a comprehensive investigation into the incident.
“While appealing to the good citizens of Imo State and indeed Nigerians to volunteer useful intelligence that will facilitate the recovery effort, the Ag. Controller-General wishes to assure that the security of custodial centres in the country remains sacrosanct,” the spokesman said.
“He equally directed all officers attached to custodial facilities to remain vigilant at this trying moment in our history.”