NewsOne Nigeria reports that a correctional facility and police investigations department in Owerri in Imo State, southeast Nigeria, were set alight by unidentified attackers in an overnight operation on Monday, April 5.
This online news platform understands that reports on social media by witnesses 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 over hundreds of inmates might have escaped.
Though NewsOne Nigeria cannot ascertain 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 the micro-blogging site, Twitter, showed heavy smokes billowing from what posters said were the scenes of the attack that lasted for more than two hours.
Watch the Owerri Prison scene below…
— Obianyo ifeanyi (@_Chainze) April 5, 2021
Meanwhile, the 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.
Police Head quarter near government building in shell camp in on fire. Mayhem and heavy gun shoots in places. Attacks on owerri prison.
Stay safe people pic.twitter.com/ySvs53c7Hg
— Omalicha Nwa (@Anayo_El) April 5, 2021
“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.”