From Femi Folaranmi Yenagoa
A combined team of security agencies on Sunday night foiled a jailbreak operation at Okaka Medium Prisons, Yenagoa, Bayelsa State capital.
The Okaka prison with a capacity of 300 inmates presently has 600 inmates and twice in the last three years suspects awaiting trial have escaped from prison vans conveying them to court, prompting extra security beef up at the prisons, including the deployment of soldiers and an Armoured Personnel Carrier to prevent any jailbreak.
Investigations revealed that the attempted jailbreak was carried out to free about six hardened criminals awaiting trial for armed robbery and kidnapping at the Okaka prisons.
Residents of Okaka were thrown into pandemonium when at about 9:00pm there was a loud bang followed by sporadic gun shots around the prison area.
A resident of Okaka, Ebi Wilson, said the loud bang and the shooting made many people to suspect that some prisoners were about to escape.
“We just heard a loud explosion which shook the foundation of my house followed by several shootings and amid shouts from the direction of the Okaka Prisons. This was followed by several sirens blaring vehicles moving in and out of Okaka Road,” he said.
A source said the attempted jailbreak was with the connivance of some people from outside with the plan to use a dynamite to blow up the fence to pave the way for the targeted suspects to escape.
Daily Sun gathered that two IEDs were smuggled into the prison for the operation and one of the IED was to blast open their cell and the other to be used for the fence for their final escape. The six suspects had succeeded in blasting open the wall of the fence and were about to move outside when they were accosted by armed prison guards who had moved swiftly to the scene. One of the suspects, a former militant standing trial for kidnapping operated the IED that blasted the wall of the cell and he was injured with several burns on his body.
The Controller of Prisons, Yenagoa, who confirmed the attempted jailbreak, commended the state Commissioner of Police, Asuquo Amba, Director of Department of State Services (DSS), Segun Agbaje and Commandant of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), Desmond Agu, for their prompt response to prevent the jailbreak.
“On Sunday at about 9.02. There was a loud bang at the prison yard. The response was immediate as prison armed squad and other officers on night duty moved to the scene. The about to be freed inmates were accosted and kept in a separate cell. Investigations into the dastard act reveal that the mastermind of the act got the IED from a visitor. IED was carefully concealed in Blue Band Margarine 100 mg plastic pack.
The original content was scooped out and replaced with the IED before the content was put back with the foil replaced making it look real. However, one unused IED meant for the outer wall was recovered. It is pertinent to note that the prompt response of the police commissioner, DSS director and the NSCDC commandant when alerted prevented what would have been a jailbreak.”
The prisons controller, who disclosed that the police anti-bomb squad have been deployed to the prison to comb the area, said outside collaborators have been identified. He said police have launched a manhunt for them while investigation is ongoing.