CHIDIEBUBE OKEOMA examines the implications of Easter Monday’s jailbreak and other attacks in Imo State
The Easter Monday jailbreak at the Owerri Correctional Centre and attacks on the Imo State Police Command headquarters in Owerri and a military base in Ukwuorji on the Owerri-Onitsha Expressway have remained the most vicious onslaught on the state and its citizens since its creation in 1976.
Gunmen had attacked the correctional centre around 1am and freed 1,884 inmates. Before attacking the facility, which shares boundaries with the Government House and the police command headquarters, the attackers had sung songs at the Government House roundabout for over 30 minutes.
The attackers reportedly told the inmates, “Go home. Jesus Christ has risen. You have no reason to be here again.”
Investigation revealed that the attackers, who were armed with sophisticated weapons, overpowered soldiers keeping guard on the route to the centre and seized their service rifles.
The Deputy Controller, Owerri Custodian Centre, Seye Olukoya told the Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola, when he visited, that the attackers had disarmed the military men and used dynamites to destroy the administrative department of the facility before gaining entry to free the inmates.
On gaining access into the facility, the gunmen vandalised the Closed Circuit Television and burnt the record profiling all the serving and ex-inmates before proceeding into the cells to free the inmates.
police command headquarters, they immediately took over the control/communications unit and disconnected all the gadgets. They did this in order to have a smooth operation.
After freeing over 600 suspects, they proceeded to a military base in Ukwuorji on the Owerri-Onitsha Expressway. On sighting the attackers, who operated in over 10 vehicles, the military men ran into the bush and occupied the villages of their host community of Eziama Obiator in the Mbaitoli Local Government Area of the state.
Unfortunately, one of the soldiers, identified simply as Zuki, who hailed from Umuopkara in the Nkwerre Local Government Area of the state, was apprehended by the gunmen, who locked him up in one of the military operational vehicles and torched it. They supervised the burning to death of the soldier before they fled after they had burnt four other operational vehicles.
In the attacks, which many have described as a huge embarrassment to the Nigerian security hierarchy, two persons lost their lives. One soldier was burnt by the gunmen and an inmate of the correctional centre died as a result of stampede.
SOURCE: PUNCH NIGERIA