The Nigerian Correctional Service says 1,993 inmates escaped from custody in the jailbreaks that occurred in Benin and Oko prisons on Monday.
Some hoodlums attacked the prisons during the #EndSARS protest in the state. Following the development, a 24-hour curfew was declared in the state.
A statement by Mohammed Manga, NCS director of press and public relations, on Tuesday, noted that most of the inmates held at the centres are “convicted criminals serving terms for various criminal offences, awaiting execution or standing trial for violent crimes”.
“Two NCoS custodial centres in Benin City and Oko in Edo State were attacked yesterday by protesters purportedly under the #ENDSARS aegis, freeing (at the last count) 1,993 inmates in legal custody and looting the centres, including the weapons in their armoury,” the statement read.
“They came in large numbers, bearing dangerous weapons and attacked the officers on guard duty. They were unmistakable on their mission, which was to force the cells open, free the inmates, and carry out other nefarious activities.
“Their being let loose gravely imperils lives and property, and that it is an unacceptable and intolerable threat to national and communal security. Investigation has commenced to determine the full impact of the attack.”
The NCS added that the situation has been brought under control, while security around custodial centres nationwide has been beefed up.
He also noted that the government is tracking all the escaped inmates.
“The integrity of the custodial centres is, therefore, fundamental to justice. Inmates of the centres are expected to pay their dues to society, undergo reformation and be reintegrated into society as changed-for-better persons,” Manga said.
“When this process is disrupted in any way, the integrity of justice and societal renewal is subverted, with dire and unimaginable consequences.
“Government’s primary duty is to protect lives and property and keep the people safe. We shall not be shirking in our responsibility and we shall not disappoint the people.”
The NCS also advised residents to report anyone that might have escaped from the custodial centres to the nearest security agency.