The Oko medium security prison in Benin, Edo state, came under a deadly gun and explosive attack early Sunday in what officials said was a failed jail break attempt, leaving the building damaged.
Prison authorities said the operation failed although witnesses said at least 10 inmates escaped, but were later rearrested.
Residents said heavily armed men drove into the area in a Toyota Coaster bus at about 1.30 a.m and attacked the prison’s gate open with gunfire and explosives suspected to be grenades.
The attackers shot severally into the air in the dead of the night as they tried to access the building sending residents scurrying for safety.
Witnesses described a fierce gun fight suggesting the attackers may have been repelled by security personnel on guard. It appeared the guards were later overpowered, they said.
F. O. Ewulo, the Edo state Controller of Prisons, confirmed the attacks but denied inmates were freed. He said investigation was underway.
Police said it could not confirm the incident immediately, but it said there were no immediate reports of any casualty or arrests.
When our correspondent visited the prisons, families and relatives of inmates milled about the facility seeking information on the state of the relatives.
Armed security officials cordoned the area and turned away visitors.