By Belove Olocha
The Federal Government has urged inmates who escaped from the Abolongo Custodial Centre in Oyo State during a jailbreak on Friday to return to prison to avoid further prosecution.
The directive was given in a statement issued by Sola Fasure, the Media Adviser to Rauf Aregbesola, Minister of Interior, on Saturday.
A total of 837 inmates escaped after gunmen attacked the correctional centre with explosives and blew parts of the facility open, thereby aiding their escape.
The statement read: “At about 10.00pm yesterday, October 22, 2021, a large number of heavily-armed gunmen attacked the Abolongo Custodial Centre, in Oyo, Oyo State.
“Armed squad units, members of the Nigerian Correctional Service and other security agencies on guard at the facility engaged the attackers in a gun duel that lasted for 20 minutes before they were overpowered.
“The attackers subsequently used grenades and other explosives to gain access into the awaiting trial section of the facility and set free many of the awaiting trial inmates. Other sections of the facilities were left untouched.
“The Controller General of the Nigerian Correctional Service has been on the scene immediately after the incident occurred.
“The Minister of Interior has been briefed on the attack. He is monitoring the situation.
“He has assured members of the public to go about their normal businesses as the situation is under control. He also requires members of the public to report any suspicious movement or any sign of the escaped inmates and the gunmen in and around the vicinity to the nearest security post around them.
“Security agencies are on the trail of the escaped inmates, while a joint security services manhunt has been launched immediately for the apprehension of the assailants.
“This has led to the capture of some of the inmates while others returned voluntarily. However, those who are on the run are advised to turn themselves in, as escape from lawful custody is a serious offence. The full weight of the law will be brought on them when arrested!”
In a separate statement, Olanrewaju Anjorin, spokesman of Oyo custodial centre, said so far, 262 inmates have been recaptured.
This, Anjorin said, leaves a total of 575 inmates are still at large.
The statement read: “Meanwhile, a total of 262 of the escapees have been recaptured leaving 575 still at large. Following the directives of the comptroller-general of corrections, Haliru Nababa mni, the state comptroller, Noel Ailewon, has commenced the process of search and recapture after visiting the scene of the incident.
“He assures that no effort will be spared to recapture the fleeing inmates even as he solicits for credible intelligence to aid security agencies in tracking down the fugitives.
“Oyo custodial centre was established in 2007 with a capacity of 160 inmates but at the time of attack, had a total population of 907. Of this number, awaiting trial persons were 837 representing 92 percent, with just 64 convicts.”