Heavily armed bandits stormed a jail in Kabba, Kogi State overnight, freeing scores of inmates, a prison authority spokesman said Monday. “The medium Security Custodial Centre in Kabba, Kogi State, has been attacked by yet to be identified gunmen and 240 inmates forcefully released,” Nigeria’s Correctional Service (NCS) spokesman Francis Enobore said in a statement.
According to him, at about 2245 GMT on Sunday, numerous attackers “engaged the armed guards in a fierce gun battle.”
But the gunmen invaded the prison, which had 294 prisoners in custody at the time, including 224 pre-trial detainees. Investigations were underway to find the escapees, he added.
Meanwhile, The Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola, has issued a statement on the attack at the Kabba Medium Security Custodial Centre in Kogi State through his Media Adviser, Sola Fasure.
He disclosed that the centre had 294 inmates as of the time of the attack, only 28 inmates did not escape.
He however said the government was putting INTERPOL on notice with the details of fleeing inmates in case any of them attempts to flee the country.
According to the statement titled ‘Security forces on the trail of escaped inmates, as gunmen attack Kabba custodial facility,’ the gunmen used explosives to destroy three sides of the centre’s perimeter fence.
One soldier and a policeman were said to have been killed during the attack, while the whereabouts of two other officers remain unknown.
“The Controller General of the Nigeria Correctional Service, Haliru Nababa, is currently monitoring the situation.”
While noting that a tour of the facility is also ongoing, the government informed that a crisis response centre has been activated and a Special Taskforce mobilised to recapture escaped inmates whilst an Inter-Agency Security Task Force is already on the trail of the gunmen who attacked the facility. It advised the public to remain calm as the situation is under control.
The statement added, “The Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola, assures the citizenry that Nigeria’s security forces will find the attackers and bring them to justice. We shall leave no stone unturned to bring them back to custody.
“We are also putting INTERPOL on notice with their details, in case any of them attempts fleeing outside our shores.
“We urge the people, especially the communities around the custodial facility, to be vigilant and report any strange and suspicious persons or activities to the nearest law enforcement agency.
“To the fleeing inmates, escaping from lawful custody is a serious criminal offence. Law enforcement agencies and citizens are lawfully empowered to use all necessary means to arrest and bring you to justice. You should therefore know what you are up against. You will however be eligible for mitigation if you wilfully surrender yourselves at the nearest law enforcement office.
“The Nigeria Correctional Service shall not be cowed by elements seeking to compromise the security of our nation; we shall deal with this situation with absolute resolve,” He said.
The Assistant Inspector-General of Police in charge of Zone 8, Lokoja, Ayuba Edeh, has confirmed the killing of two soldiers at a roadblock before the Kabba correctional centre, while over 100 inmates escaped when hoodlums invaded the facility overnight.
The soldiers were said to have mounted a routine checkpoint about 50 metres from the prison situated along the Lokoja- Okebukun-Kabba highway when the hoodlums came and rained bullets on them before invading the prison facility.
An eyewitness account on Monday morning said that the gunmen also sprayed bullets on an uncompleted building where the soldiers normally occupy before they broke into the correctional centre and released over 100 of the inmates.
The account said some of the correctional officers on guard were fatally injured, while one of the soldiers who made an attempt to flee was also hit in the leg.
A source also confirmed that three of the prisoners were rearrested at about 8.00 am on Monday beside Kudon hotel, Kabba, as they tried to board an Ilorin-bound vehicle.
Confirming the incident, Edeh said that the state Commissioner of Police and other heads of security agencies have swung into action to do an assessment of the cause of the invasion.