Imo Prison the Nigerian Correction Service, Owerri Custodial Centre was attacked this morning.
Unknown gunmen have reportedly attacked and set ablaze Owerri Custodial Centre of Nigerian Correction Service and police headquarters near government house in Owerri, Imo state in the early hours of Monday, April 5.
According to reports on social media, the attackers struck the prison and police department shortly after midnight, releasing a yet-to-be confirmed number of inmates and suspects.
In videos of the incident shared online, heavy gunfire also rang through the area, with some Twitter users who appear to be Imo residents 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 over the weekend said that the Owerri Correctional Centre had 2,156 inmates as against its installed capacity of 548 people.
The level of destruction and casualty figures were yet unknown, but pictures shared on Twitter showed heavy smokes billowing from the scenes of the attack.
According to Peoples Gazette, Imo police spokesman, Godson Orlando said 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.
At about 4:48am, he said;
I am just hearing it from you now. I will have to wait until later today to find out what happened.
The attack came amid confrontation between Nigerian security forces and members of Indigenous People Of Biafra (IPOB) 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.
For the latest incident, those behind the violence and their motive could not be ascertained, as there was yet to be any statement from the government or police, as at the time of filing this report.
More details to come.
See some videos of the incident below;
Gunmen attack Imo prison, free over 2000 inmates.
Recall, Amnesty International said over the weekend that Owerri Correctional Centre had 2,156 inmates as against its installed capacity of 548 people. pic.twitter.com/q5emVRbADA
— Otaigbe Imadegbelo (@Imudia_se2) April 5, 2021
Nigerian Human Rights Activist, Chidi Odinkanu confirming the news tweeted:
“Something involving significant firearms is happening in Owerri, Imo State right now…. It’s somewhere between govt House, Rockview & Prisons….???
Initial suggestion of a possible attack on Owerri Prison, Imo State, with high calibre munitions. ireball created in the vicinity. Prolonged explosions & gunshots lasting over 1 hr. Early rpt of security person injured. Some snr govt personnel evacuated to nearby establishments
Reports of overwhelming attack on security & law enforcement establishments in Owerri, Imo State, SE Nigeria. State CID, Prisons. Perpetrators unclear but seem to have gone unchallenged for over 75 mins with discharge of high-calibre weapons. Possible detonations too”