BY DAYO JOHNSON
AKURE —AT least 30 gunmen in the early hours of Sunday stormed the Olokuta Medium Security Prison in Akure, Ondo State capital, and set free about 175 inmates mainly those standing trial for robbery.
A prison officer was shot in the right leg by the gunmen and he is receiving treatment at the Military Hospital, Akure.
Officials of the prison reportedly fled following the bombardment of the cell walls by the gunmen who also fired sporadically into the air.
The gunmen reportedly barricaded the Akure-Ore expressway where the prison is located for hours while the operation lasted.
However, reports said some of the escapees were later picked by the security agents at some of the brothels within the capital city and neighbouring villages near the prison where they were hiding but identified by villagers.
Vanguard learnt that the gunmen armed with machine guns and dynamites arrived the prison premises around midnight and started shooting sporadically in to the air to scare the prison officials on duty.
It was gathered that the assailants, armed with knowledge of how the prisoners are kept, went straight to the cell where robbery suspects were kept and blew up the walls with dynamite, setting them free.
Dependable source in the Olokuta prison said the gunmen invaded the place purposely to free some suspects arrested during a bank robbery in Akure and have been kept in the prison for over a year without trial.
Others headed for the main entrance but their attempt to blow it up failed so they concentrated on the wall leading to other cells where they set free other inmates.
The Olokuta prison is less than a kilometre to the headquarters of the 32, Artillery Brigade of the Nigerian Army, Owena Barracks.
Top security chiefs in the state including the state Commissioner of Police, Patrick Dukumor and the state Attorney General and Justice Commissioner, Eyitayo Jegede SAN have visited the place for on the spot assessment.
It’s unusual — Comptroller
Contacted, the state Prisons Comptroller, Tunde Olayiwola, described the attack as unusual, noting that the culprits will soon be brought to book.
Olayiwola dispelled rumour that the attack was masterminded by Boko Haram as being speculated.
According to him, “we cannot specifically identify those behind the attack, but it was unusual. One of our officers was injured during the attack and he is in the hospital receiving treatment. I am assuring that those behind it will be brought to book soon.”
Speaking with newsmen, the state Police spokesman, Wole Ogodo, confirmed the attack, saying the police command had contacted the prison authority, adding: “All the security agents within the state are working together to track down the criminals and bring them to book.
Meantime, the situation at the Olokuta Medium prison has been brought under control just as security has been beefed up within the prison.
It’s pathetic— State govt
Meantime, the Ondo State government has described the jail break as pathetic.
The Attorney General and Justice Commissioner, Eyitayo Jegede, said this in Akure after an on the spot assessment of the incident.
Jegede said the state government would invite the top officials of the prison.
He said that “With what we are seeing here, the state government will look into the incident and if need be, we will summon all the security chiefs and top prison officers”.
Also speaking after his visit, the CP, Patrick Dukumor, described the incident as ‘unfortunate’ and promised that the perpetrator will be brought to book