By Peter Okutu
ABAKALIKI—SEVERAL inmates of Abakaliki prisons in Ebonyi state were yesterday feared dead and many sustained bullet injuries following a foiled jail break.
Unconfirmed sources said that more than 14 persons were killed including one prison official and those injured were taken to the Federal Teaching Hospital Abakaliki, FETHA, for medical attention.
Vanguard learned that trouble started when prisoners on Thursday morning revolted against the poor treatment, especially inadequate feeding that has been persistent in the prison for a long time.
Sources further revealed that the angry inmates started rioting inside the prison and used every object within their reach to attack prison officials and consequently injured many.
Prison officials injured
Two of the prison officials wounded during the incident were already hospitalized.
The prison officials, it was learned, returned fire for fire which resulted in the killing of several inmates. Many others sustained gunshot wounds.
Vanguard’s investigation revealed that, if not for the rapid response of the combined team of the prison officials, Nigeria police and army drafted to the scene, the inmates had started escaping from the prison having over-powered the guards.
As at press time, soldiers and Policemen had already cordoned off all roads leading to the Abakaliki prisons.
Gunshots were heard intermittently as Police and soldiers tried to recover firearms allegedly taken from one of the prison officials by the inmates.
The rioting inmates had already succeeded in creating an opening on the wall before anti-riot policemen arrived and tear-gassed them into submission.
The prison is located beside the police headquarters leading to prompt intervention from the police.
Army Commander, CP visits
Already, the commander of the military cantonment and the commissioner of Police visited the area and directed that sanity be restored in the prison.
In a telephone interview, the state Controller of Prisons, Mrs Oputa Emilia who confirmed the foiled jail break, was sketchy on the number of casualties of the incident.
She denied knowledge of any death or snatching of guns from the prison guards by the inmates.
But she admitted that the angry prisoners broke part of the fence and assured that the situation has been brought under control.
A high ranking prison official stated that some prisoners were actually killed and their bodies were secretly evacuated from the prisons even as he insisted that the shooting of prisoners was carried out in self defense.
It was also gathered that officials who took pictures of casualties were forced to delete them to avoid divulging it to the public.
The Police Spokesman, George Okafor when contacted said the command was still working hard to resolve the crisis. He, however, refused to confirm if anybody was killed.
“There was an attempted jailbreak and the prisons called in the police. We cordoned off the area and restored nomalcy to the area.”