The reported breaking of the Afokang prison in Calabar, Cross River State, by gunmen on Friday morning has been confirmed to be an attempt by inmates to escape from the prison.
The inmates overpowered armed prison guards and entered the prison’s armoury. They were however rounded up by a combined team of security agents.
How the inmates entered the armoury was still known as at the time of filing this report, but it was gathered that a total of 53 rifles were recovered while one was still missing.
The incident, sources said, caused pandemonium as residents of neighbouring Afokang, Iman and Jebbs in Calabar South axis of the metropolis scampered to safety while the operation lasted.
Two inmates reportedly escaped as the Afokang end of the prison fence was broken, but the state controller of prisons, Mr. Clement Udosen, has denied it, saying “no inmate escaped”.
The prison armed squad was said to have called for reinforcement after the inmates had overpowered them. The situation was said to have been brought under control after 40 minutes of gun duel with the inmates.
The arrival of about 17 hardened criminals which included kidnappers, drug barons, ex-militants and armed robbers into the prison two weeks ago might have caused the attempted jailbreak.
The State Controller of the Nigeria Prisons Service, Mr. Clement Udosen, while denying that no inmate escaped confirmed that they actually got access to the armoury.
He said that when he arrived the scene, “the whole place was filled with people with rifles, people who had come here to help us, the soldiers, police, civil defence, state security service and others.
“Two of the cells’ inmates organized themselves and overpowered the prison staff and rushed to where we have the armoury, seized the rifles there and went back firing at the staff. In that confusion they broke other cells and the whole yard was filled with inmates. They carried what they could get to break the fence.
“Luckily for now they have all been rounded up and nobody has escaped. A lot of people have been injured and one staff had been rushed to the hospital. Right now the doctors with his team are treating those injured. On casualties (deaths), it is the doctor that would ascertain that because he is treating them.”