Monday, April 12, 2021

Inmates freed as attackers blow up Owerri prison, police headquarters

The attack came as confrontation intensified between Nigerian security forces and adherents of the separatist IPOB movement across the South-East.

• April 5, 2021
Photo from incident scene (Credit: Twitter)
Photo from incident scene (Credit: Twitter)

A correctional facility and police investigations department in Owerri were set alight by unidentified attackers in an overnight operation on Monday, reports on social media said.

Multimedia and witnesses account on social media said the attackers struck the prison and police department shortly after midnight, freeing a yet-unconfirmed number of inmates and suspects. Heavy gunfire also rang through the area, with an account saying hundreds of inmates might have escaped.

Senior government officials have been reportedly asked to shelter-in-place due to the proximity of the scene to the government house.

It was unclear how many prisoners escaped, but Amnesty International said over the weekend that Owerri Correctional Centre had 2,156 inmates as against its installed capacity of 548 people.

The level of destruction and casualty figures were not immediately available, but pictures shared on Twitter showed heavy smokes billowing from what posters said were the scenes of the attack that lasted for more than two hours.

Imo police spokesman Godson Orlando told Peoples Gazette he was unaware of the violence, hours after reports had spread across social media with residents across different sections of Owerri reporting hearing heavy gunshots and explosions.

“I am just hearing it from you now,” Mr Orlando, a police superintendent, told The Gazette by telephone at 4:48 a.m. “I will have to wait until later today to find out what happened.”

A spokesman for the correctional headquarters in Abuja did not immediately return a request seeking comments.

The attack came as confrontation intensified between Nigerian security forces and adherents of the IPOB separatist movement across the South-East. Since January, there have been repeated clashes between Nigerian troops and IPOB elements in Imo, Rivers, Abia and Anambra, with both sides denying responsibility for civilian casualties.

Those behind the violence and their motive could not be ascertained before this report was filed. But President Muhammadu Buhari and police inspector-general Mohammed Adamu both blamed IPOB for the attack and deployed additional troops to the region.

The correctional service said in a statement issued on Monday evening that 1,844 inmates escaped.

More from Peoples Gazette

EU Countries

World

Organised crime spreading in Europe: Europol

According to the report, the gangs and networks are organised like business enterprises, with different management levels.

Mechanised farming

Agriculture

Successful Nigerian applicants to benefit from USAID’s $3m food security grant

The initiative would award 15 to 25 youth-led companies up to $75,000 each and 10 to 15 mid-stage companies up to $150,000 each.

MR AND MRS ODUMAKIN

States

Yinka Odumakin will be buried April 24: Widow

“The rites will span three days, starting from Thursday, April 22, Friday 23, and Saturday, April, 24.”

Buhari, Pat Utomi and Tinubu

Politics

Angry Utomi calls Buhari, other politicians terrible mistake for Nigerians

“We seem unable to have a rational conversation. Nigeria politics irritates, annoys me because it is not dealing with issues people are dealing with.”

Uche Secondus

Politics

Fayose vs Makinde: PDP holds zonal congress in Osogbo amid tight security

While Governor Seyi Makinde supports Mr Arapaja for the chairmanship, Ayo Fayose, a former Ekiti governor, supports Mr Olafeso.