By Omeiza Ajayi, Abuja
The Federal Government said it has begun a manhunt for the 575 inmates of the Oyo Medium Security Custodial Centre in Oyo State who are currently at large following Friday morning attack on the prison by armed criminals.
It said, so far, 262 inmates have been recaptured, promising to recapture the 575 who are still at large.
The Oyo Custodial Centre was established in 2007 with a capacity of 160 inmates but as of the time of attack, had a total population of 907. Of this number, awaiting trial persons were 837 representing 92%, while there were just 64 convicts.
Sola Fasure , Media Adviser to the Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola in a statement issued Saturday in Abuja said while his principal has been briefed on the attack and currently monitoring developments, the Controller General of the Nigerian Correctional Service has been on the situation immediately the incident occurred.
“He has assured members of the public to go about their normal businesses as the situation is under control. He also requires 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.
“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 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 escape from lawful custody is a serious offense. The full weight of the law will be brought on them when arrested! “, Fasure stated.
The Nigerian Correctional Service NCoS on its part said while the invaders forced out all the awaiting trial detainees, the cells housing the convicts and the female inmates were not vandalized.
“Meanwhile, a total of 262 of the escapees have been recaptured leaving 575 still at large.
“Following the directives of the Controller General of Corrections, Haliru Nababa mni, the State Controller, Noel Ailewon has commenced the process of search and recapture after visiting the scene of the incident.
“He assure that no effort will be spared to recapture the fleeing inmates even as he solicit for credible intelligence to aid Security agencies in tracking down the fugitives”, the NCoS stated.
The invaders were said to have arrived the facility heavily armed with sophisticated weapons and after a 20-minute fierce encounter with officers on guard, gained entrance into the yard using dynamite to blast the wall.