The Federal Government has confirmed that two Custodial Centres in Benin City and Oko in Edo State were attacked on Monday.
Mohammed Manga, Director of Public Relations in the Ministry of Interior, gave the update in a statement on Tuesday.
He disclosed that at the last count, 1,993 inmates in legal custody had escaped. Manga explained that the attackers looted the centres, including weapons in their armoury.
The spokesman noted that the attackers came in large numbers, bearing dangerous weapons and attacked the officers on guard duty.
“They were unmistakable on their mission, which was to force the cells open, free the inmates and carry out other nefarious activities.
“The situation has been brought under control while security in and around the custodial centres nationwide has been beefed up. Investigations have commenced, to determine the full impact of the attack.”
He noted that peaceful protest is legitimate and guaranteed as a fundamental right of citizens, operating as individuals and groups, attacking a custodial centre is a criminal act.
The government reiterated that the custodial centres are high-security zones and that the primary duty of the institution is to keep custody of convicted criminals and awaiting trial suspects.
“The integrity of the custodial centres is, therefore, fundamental to justice. Inmates of the centres are expected to pay their dues to society, undergo reformation and be reintegrated into society as changed-for-better persons.
“When this process is disrupted in any way, the integrity of justice and societal renewal is subverted, with dire and unimaginable consequences.
“Most of the inmates held at the centres are convicted criminals serving terms for various criminal offences, awaiting execution or standing trial for violent crimes.”
Manga said their forceful release gravely imperils lives and property of citizens. The official declared that the jailbreak is an unacceptable and intolerable threat to national and communal security.
“Government’s primary duty is to protect lives and property and keep the people safe. We shall not be shirking in our responsibility and we shall not disappoint the people”, Manga added.
He assured Edo State residents that in conjunction with other security agencies, the government is tracking all the escaped inmates.
The statement advised anyone who notices any person or persons that might have escaped from the custodial centres to inform the nearest security agency.