Police in Nigeria have confirmed that a total of 1,844 prisoners were fled when gunmen attacked a correctional facility in Owerri, the state capital of the southern state of Imo.
According to Nigerian Correctional Service (NCS) spokesperson Francis Enobore, the unknown gunmen gained access to the facility using explosives at about 0215hrs on Monday.
“The Owerri Custodial Center in Imo State has been attacked by unknown gunmen and forcefully released a total of 1,844 inmates in custody,” said Enobore
Acting Controller-General of Corrections, John Mrabure has ordered a comprehensive investigation into the incident. In collaboration with other security agencies, a search and recover operations to recover the fleeing inmates has also kicked off.
Thirty-five inmates refused to flee while 6 inmates have voluntarily returned to the facility so far.
“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,” John Mrabure said.
No group has so far claimed responsibility of the attack but police say the gunmen were from the Eastern Security Network – a military wing of the dominant pro-Biafra secessionist group in southeast Nigeria, the Indigenous People of Biafra (Ipob).
Since 2015, Southern eastern part of Nigeria has experienced the most resurgent in secessionist sentiment since the 1967-70 Biafra War.