The Federal Government has enlisted the International Criminal Police Organisation (INTERPOL) and the Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS) to help apprehend prisoners who fled the various custodial centres in the country, the most recent being the jailbreak in Owerri, the Imo state capital.
No fewer than 1,844 inmates escaped from the Owerri Custodial Centre on Monday when unidentified gunmen broke into the facility with the aid of explosives. The gunmen also attacked the Imo Police Command Headquarters, where they freed about 600 suspects in custody.
The National Correctional Service said on its website on Wednesday that it had a total of 84 inmates back in custody. It explained that the figure included those who did not flee during the jailbreak, those recaptured, those who voluntarily returned and those brought back by their relations, traditional rulers and religious leaders.
The NCos had on Friday published on its Twitter handle the names and pictures of 36 of the fleeing inmates, saying it is releasing the details of the escapees in batches.
It was also learnt that the official number of “dangerous” inmates on the loose in the country – including those who escaped in Owerri – stands at 3,471, the Punch quoted a senior official of the NCoS as saying.
While 1,161 inmates escaped from Oko custodial centre, 530 absconded from the Benin custodial facility after the #EndSARS protest was hijacked by hoodlums in October last year.
The source noted that the inmates included hardened criminals, kidnappers, armed robbers and condemned criminals awaiting execution.
“Suffice it to say that the bulk of those who fled Owerri correctional centre are hardened criminals,” the source added.
Francis Enobore, the NCoS spokesperson, confirmed that the service has enlisted the services of INTERPOL and Immigration in arresting the escaped inmates.
He said: “We are putting the list together, we would definitely seek INTERPOL and NIS’ assistance.
“Like the ones we are processing now, we want everything to be comprehensive so that we send them at the same time. We also realise that waiting for the list to be comprehensive before sending may also slow down the manhunt, so these batches that are coming up would be sent for local searches at motor parks and other places but everything would be uploaded to the (INTERPOL) platform.”
On its part, the NIS said it has beefed up security at the nation’s borders in a bid to arrest the inmates who escaped during the Imo jailbreak as they may be planning to flee the country.
Sunday James, the NIS spokesperson, said the Immigration had received the names and photos of some of the escapees from the NCoS.
He said: “We have the details of those people (suspects). They have been sent to us officially. So, we are monitoring with those pictures as a sister agency. We have sent the photos to our border officers and they are monitoring with those pictures.”