Jailbreak in Kogi; gunmen free 144 inmates

The Koton Karfe prison in Kogi has again been attacked by unknown gunmen, who also set free 144 inmates.

The state Controller of prison, Adams Omale, told journalists on Monday that the prison came under attack of armed “external forces” between 9.30 pm and 10 pm on Sunday, November 2.

He said that 145 inmates were in the prison as at the time of the attack, saying that 119 of the inmates were awaiting trial while 26 were convicts.

Mr. Omale said that one of the inmates was shot dead during the confusion that followed the invasion.

The controller, however, said that 12 of the inmates were either re-arrested or returned on their own.

He said police and army personnel were quickly mobilised to counter the invaders, but the damage had been done before their arrival.

Residents of the sleepy town, which is just a 25-minute drive to Lokoja, the state capital, claimed that the attackers held sway for more than two hours.

The 50-bed prison facility, built in 1934, was similarly attacked in February 2012 by unknown gunmen.

Reports at the time indicate 136 inmates were set free while 27 were re-arrested during that attack.

In Sunday’s attack, the four cells in the prison had their iron bars removed while the record office was thoroughly ransacked.

It was also observed that the ceiling of the building was shattered and the clinic turned upside down.

Governor Idris Wada, in company with his deputy, Yomi Awoniyi, and the Comptroller-General of the Nigeria Prisons Service, Aminu Suley, later visited the prison to assess the extent of damage.

Mr. Suley appealed to Mr. Wada and those in position of power to prevail on the judiciary to step up their performance to decongest prisons.

He said many of the fleeing inmates had no reason to be in cell, saying that they will be declared wanted anytime from now.

The comptroller-general expressed optimism that some of the inmates would return on their own.

Among those freed from the prison were armed robbery and murder convicts.

On his part, Mr. Wada expressed shock over the condition of the prison, which he described as the first in Northern Nigeria.

He promised to provide mattresses and beds, saying that it was unbelievable that inmates still sleep on bare floor in the prison.

The governor, who stated that he just presided over an emergency security meeting, also appealed to the Minister of Interior, Abba Moro, to speed up work and ensure timely completion of the new prison facility under construction in Koton Karfe.

Mr. Wada assured the people of the state of government’s determination to secure their lives and property, saying that there was no cause for alarm.

(NAN)


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