At least 240 prisoners have escaped in a prison break in Nigeria’s north-central Kogi State after gunmen carried out a blitz attack on the facility killing two security operatives authorities have said.
Similarly, two officers of the Nigeria Correctional Service (NCoS), have not been accounted for, the spokesperson for the Ministry of Interior, Sola Fasure, disclosed in a statement on Monday.
The Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola, who affirmed that he had been briefed by the Controller General of the NCoS, Haliru Nababa, described the incident as unfortunate.
Giving more details regarding the event, Aregbesola explained that security officers – comprising 15 soldiers, 10 police officers, and 10 armed guards of the NCoS – on duty “fought gallantly” to repel the attack.
“Regrettably, two officers of the correctional service are yet to be accounted for while one soldier and a policeman lost their lives during the attack,” he said.
The Kabba Custodial facility had 294 inmates as of the time of the attack, many of whom escaped after the gunmen used explosives to destroy three sides of the perimeter fence.
However, 28 inmates refused to escape and some of those that fled have voluntarily returned to the facility as of Monday morning.
Gunmen in large numbers attacked from all angles and didn’t give the correctional service any opportunity of responding,” said Ede Ayuba Ekpeji, an Assistant Inspector-General of Police for the region.
“One police inspector was killed, another police inspector was injured and taken to hospital,” he added. “Three of the escaping prisoners have been rearrested.” No specific category of prisoners was targeted for release by the attackers, Ekpeji said.
The jailbreak in Kogi comes five months after nearly 2000 inmates broke free from a prison in Imo State, southeast Nigeria, after armed men invaded the custodial center and used explosives to blast parts of the prison, authorities said at the time.
Nigeria is grappling with one of its worst security crises in recent years as insurgency, separatist conflicts, banditry, and kidnappings for ransom remain on the increase.