Unidentified gunmen, Monday, set the Imo State Custodial Centre, Owerri ablaze, close to the State Government House, freeing 1,844 inmates.
The Nation Newspaper reported that the hoodlums converged in front of the Imo State Government House, circling the roundabout and chanting solidarity songs for about 30 minutes before they set out to attack the Police Command Headquarters.
They were said to have shot sporadically as they approached the Command headquarters and launched attack on the State Criminal Investigative Department (CID) as well as the former SARS.
Our correspondent gathered that there was sporadic shooting on Monday morning which lasted for three hours before the centre was bombed.
It was gathered that the hoodlums took advantage of the calm atmosphere of Easter to invade the centre at the wee hours of Monday.
The development came after the state Commissioner of Police, Nasiru Mohammed said that he had deployed more than 4,760 personnel to ensure maximum security during and after the Easter celebration.
The hoodlums also set the police headquarters and some vehicles ablaze.
Officers on duty reportedly ran away as the hoodlums released every suspect in detention.
The only unit the hoodlums did not attack, The Nation gathered, is the anti-kidnapping unit located some meters away inside the police barracks at Shell Camp.
In a statement on Monday in Abuja, Francis Enobore, the Service spokesman, said the attackers stormed the facility at about 0215hrs on Monday April 5, gained entrance into the yard by using explosives to blast the administrative block.
“The Owerri Custodial Centre in Imo State has been attacked by unknown gunmen and forcefully released a total of 1,844 inmates in custody.
“They were said to have arrived the centre in their large number in several Hilux pick-up vans and Sienna Buses armed with sophisticated weapons and immediately engaged the security personnel on duty in a fierce gun battle. They eventually detonated the explosive to gain entrance.
“The Acting Controller-General of Corrections, John Mrabure has ordered a comprehensive investigation into the incident and in collaboration with other security organizations, commenced a search and recover operations to recapture the fleeing inmates.
“While appealing to the good citizens of Imo State and indeed Nigerians to volunteer useful intelligence that will facilitate the recovery effort, the Acting Controller-General wishes to assure that the security of custodial centres in the country remains sacrosanct.”
The statement said the NCoS has equally directed all officers attached to custodial facilities to remain vigilant at the moment.