The Nigerian Correctional Service (NSC) has disclosed that at least 1,844 inmates were currently on the run following gunmen attacks on its correctional headquarters in Owerri, Imo State.
NSC added that of the 1,844 inmates set free by the gunmen, six have voluntarily returned to the facility to continue their jail term while 35 inmates refused to escape from custody during the attacks that occurred at about 2: 15 am on Monday in Owerri.
The correctional services, in a statement made available to newsmen by its Public Relations Officer, Francis Enobore, stated that the attackers gained entrance into the yard by using explosives to destroy the administrative block.
According to NCS, they arrived at the centre in their large number with 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.
The agency noted that after several minutes of the face-off, they overpowered the security personnel and eventually detonated the explosive to gain entrance.
NSC statement reads: “The Acting Controller-General of Corrections, John Mrabure has ordered a comprehensive investigation into the incident and in collaboration with other security organizations, commenced a search and recovery operations to recapture the fleeing inmates.
“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.
“Mrabure equally directed all officers attached to custodial facilities to remain vigilant at this trying moment in our history.
“As at the last count, 6 inmates have so far voluntarily returned to the facility while 35 inmates refused to escape from custody during the attack”, it added.