From Joseph Inokotong, Abuja
A total of 262 escapees of the Oyo Medium Security Custodial Centre have been recaptured leaving 575 inmates still at large, authorities have said.
The Oyo Medium Security Custodial Centre was attacked by yet to be identified gunmen at about 2130 hrs on Friday, October 22.
The invaders were said to have arrived at the Centre heavily armed and after a fierce encounter with officers on guard gained entry into the yard using dynamite to blast the wall.
A statement by spokesman CSC Anjorin said that ‘while all the awaiting trial detainees were forced out of custody, the cells housing the convicts and the female inmates were not vandalised.
‘Meanwhile, a total of 262 of the escapees have been recaptured leaving 575 still at large.’
He pointed out that following the directives of the Controller General of Corrections, Haliru Nababa, the State Controller, Noel Ailewon has commenced the process of search and recapture after visiting the scene of the incident.
He assured that no effort will be spared to recapture the fleeing inmates even as he solicited 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 the attack, had a total population of 907. Of this number, awaiting trial persons were 837 representing 92% with just 64 convicts.
Meanwhile, Minister of Interior Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola has assured the general public that the situation has been brought under control after the attack by heavily-armed gunmen on the Abolongo Custodial Centre.
He said that authorities are on the trail of the escaped inmates, while a joint security services manhunt has been launched immediately to apprehend the assailants, which has led to the capture of some of the inmates while others returned voluntarily.
Aregbesola advised those who are on the run to turn themselves in, as an escape from lawful custody is a serious offence.
The Interior Minister, who disclosed this in a statement by his Media Adviser Sola Fasure, added that the Controller General of the Nigerian Correctional Service (NCoS) has been on the situation immediately after the incident occurred.
Narrating the incident, Aregbesola said: ‘At about 10.00 pm yesterday, October 22, 2021, a large number of heavily-armed gunmen attacked the Abolongo Custodial Centre, in Oyo, Oyo State.
‘Armed squad unit 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 minister assured members of the public to go about their normal businesses as the situation is under control, and appealed to 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.
He reiterated that the 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, he added, ‘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 an escape from lawful custody is a serious offence. The full weight of the law will be brought on them when arrested.’