The Nigeria Prisons Authority on Thursday confirmed the escape of 119 inmates from the Koton-Karfe prison on the Lokoja-Abuja Road after it was attacked on Wednesday night by unknown gunmen suspected to be members of the extremist Boko Haram sect.
The Spokesperson of the Nigeria Prisons Authority in Lokoja, Hadiza Aminu, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that the inmates were among the 120 persons awaiting trial.
She denied reports that the prison was attacked by members of Boko Haram sect, saying that those believed to be behind the attack were members of a robbery syndicate whose colleagues were among the detainees.
NAN gathered that the robbery syndicate had in the last few days written three letters to the prison authority in Lokoja, asking for unconditional release of their colleagues, but the request was rejected.
Mrs. Aminu, who neither confirmed nor denied the information, said that a male prison official was killed in the attack, which took the authority by surprise.
She said the attackers gained entry into the cell by blowing up the iron bars with improvised explosive devise before setting free their colleagues and other inmates, except one who chose to stay back.
Some residents who witnessed the attack told NAN that the gunmen, some 15 of them, arrived at the prison premises on foot, armed with sophisticated weapons with which they overpowered the prison officials.
Koton-Karfe, the headquarters of Kogi Local Government Area, is about 30 kilometres from Lokoja, the state capital.
The hoodlums were said to have thereafter trekked to a junction on the Lokoja-Abuja Road, where they snatched some vehicles from their owners in which they escaped.