The Nigerian Correctional Service (NCS) says 1,844 inmates escaped following the attack on its custodial centre in Owerri, the Imo State capital.
Francis Enobore, the spokesperson for the correctional centre disclosed this in a statement.
SaharaReporters had reported how armed men in the early hours of Monday attacked the facility, freeing some inmates.
They also proceeded to the State Police Headquarters where they set ablaze the building and destroyed all vehicles within the vicinity.
Enobore said the attack was carried out by “unknown gunmen” who gained entrance into the yard by using explosives to blast the administrative block.
He added that a comprehensive investigation into the incident has been ordered by the Acting Controller-General of Corrections, John Mrabure.
The statement read, “The Owerri Custodial Centre in Imo State has been attacked by unknown gunmen and forcefully released a total of 1,844 inmates in custody.
“The attackers who stormed the facility at about 0215hrs on Monday 5th April, 2021, gained entrance into the yard by using explosives to blast the administrative block.
“They were said to have arrived at the centre in their large number in 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. They eventually detonated the explosive to gain entrance.
“The Acting Controller-General of Corrections, John Mrabure has ordered a comprehensive investigation into the incident and in collaboration with other security organisations, 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. The Controller-General wishes to assure that the security of custodial centres in the country remains sacrosanct.
“He 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.”