Unknown gunmen have freed about 144 inmates at the Koton Karfe prison in Kogi State after an attack on Sunday night, State Controller of prison, Mr Adams Omale confirmed the attack to newsmen on Monday.
According to him, 145 inmates were in the prison as at the time of the attack, 119 of who were awaiting trial and only 26 already convicted.
Omale explained that 12 of the inmates were either re-arrested or returned on their own, adding however that one was killed in the confusion that followed the prison break.
The controller said that police and army personnel were quickly mobilised to the prison, but the gunmen had completed their work before the security forces’ arrival.
“There were 145 prisoners at the time of the attack,” Jacob Edi, spokesman for Kogi’s Governor Idris Wada said.
“One died, eight have been recaptured and four surrendered voluntarily. The rest are at large.”
A similar attack on the same prison in February 2012, had according to reports, led to the escape of 136 inmates. 27 inmates were re-arrested at the time.
Governor of Kogi State, Idris Wada was joined with his deputy, Yomi Awoniyi and the Comptroller-General of the Nigeria Prisons Service, Mr Aminu Suley to aseess the extent of damage caused by the attackers.
Speaking at the prison, Suley disclosed that many of the fleeing inmates had no reason to be in cell. He therefore appealed to Wada and those in position of power to prevail on the judiciary to work on decongesting prisons.
While he said that the escaped inmates will be declared wanted soon, he expressed optimism that some of them would return on their own.
Also speaking, Governor Wada expressed shock over the condition of the prison. He promised to provide mattresses and beds, saying that it was unbelievable that inmates still sleep on bare floor in the prison. Findings showed that the prison built in 1934 had a 50-bed capacity.
Wada also appealed to the Minister of Interior, Mr Abba Moro, to speed up work and ensure timely completion of the new prison facility under construction in Koton Karfe.