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, prison authorities said Monday.
A spokesman for the Nigerian Correctional Service said in a statement the correctional facility in Kogi’s Kabba district came under fire from unidentified gunmen, who raided the site and “immediately engaged the armed guards in a fierce gun battle.”
“The incident took place at about 2345hrs on 12th September, 2021,” said Francis Enobore, spokesman for the Correctional Service.
Enobore said no fewer than 294 inmates were in custody at the time of the attack, stating that “224 are pre-trial detainees and 70 convicted inmates.”
He added that a “recapture procedure” had been activated to find the fleeing inmates.
A regional police chief told CNN one policeman was killed during the raid.
“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.
The Nigeria Police Force blamed secessionist groups in the southeast region for the attack which occurred in April.
Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari had described the Imo prison break as “an act of terrorism,” but has yet to comment on the latest raid on the Kogi prison.
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.