The Federal Government, yesterday, said security forces have captured 262 of 575 fleeing inmates of Oyo Medium Security Custodial Centre who escaped when gunmen attacked the facility Friday night.
Gunmen had stormed the Correctional Centre in Oyo town, freeing inmates after a gun duel with guards.
The large number of inmates on the loose, some of them hardened criminals, was a source of worry to residents of the town and environs, last night, as they believed the situation could result in a spike in the rate of criminality.
Meanwhile, Governor Seyi Makinde, last night, called for calm over the jail attack, stating that all security agencies in the state had been put on high alert, and that the state would do everything to protect its citizens and all state and national assets.
Makinde, in a broadcast on the Broadcasting Corporation of Oyo State (BCOS), said government had directed security agencies to deploy personnel to critical national assets within the state and to monitor all entrancesl and exit points across the state.
He urged all residents of the state to be watchful and to call the Security Emergency Number 615 in case they notice any untoward movement of persons or development, repeating the call to action, “if you see something, say something.”
A statement by the Chief Press Secretary to the governor, Mr. Taiwo Adisa, indicated that the governor commiserated with the families of the two slain security agents: a corporal of the Nigerian Army attached to Operation Burst, and an Operative of the Oyo State Amotekun Corps.
The statement noted that the governor had earlier visited another Amotekun Corp, Shukurat Omoba, who was injured in the attack and in critical condition at the University College Hospital, UCH, Ibadan.
He added that the state is deploying all resources to ensure that she survives the situation, while also urging residents to join in prayers for her speedy recovery.
Public Relations Officer, Nigeria Correctional Service (NCoS), Oyo State Command, Mr Olarewaju Anjorin, who confirmed the attack, said it happened at 9:50 pm. He said: “Yes, I can confirm to you that the place was attacked and some of the awaiting inmates were set free. I am there right now with the Comptroller and some other senior officers assessing the damage done to the facility.
“Now, we cannot ascertain the number of the inmates freed or people that got injured, but definitely, I will be giving you an update later.”
In a related development, Sola Fasure, Media Adviser to the Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, in a statement, said a joint security services manhunt had been launched to apprehend fleeing inmates and the attackers.
His words: “He (Minister of Interior) 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 an escape from lawful custody is a serious offence. The full weight of the law will be brought on them when arrested.’’
The 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 Comptroller General of Corrections, Haliru Nababa, the state Comptroller, Noel Ailewon, has commenced the process of search and recapture after visiting the scene of the incident.
“He assures that no effort will be spared to recapture the fleeing inmates even as he solicits credible intelligence to aid security agencies in tracking down the fugitives,” the NCoS stated.
Reacting to the incident, Aare Onakakanfo of Yorubaland, Iba Gani Adams, blamed security agencies for the attack, accusing them of not providing adequate security around the prison.
In a statement by his Special Assistant on Media, Mr. Kehinde Aderemi, the Yoruba generalissimo said the invasion of the facility has exposed the poor security situation in the country.
He said: “Oyo town has never recorded such an incident in its history. Unfortunately, insecurity has triggered various types of menace across the country.
“Following the attack on the Abuja- bound train, and the Oyo prison attack, it is certainly no doubt that the bandits are playing out a script that will later engulf the entire nation.
“It is, indeed, very ridiculous to hear such unsavoury news coming from the ancient town. However, I want to express my concern to Kabiesi, His Imperial Majesty, Oba Lamidi Adeyemi and the Oyo State government.
“I am also using this opportunity to urge the Inspector General of Police to look into the security situation in Oyo and address the problem. Oyo State is very sensitive to the Southwest and we cannot continue to live in fear”.
“The idea of using only one police structure is as old as heaven and no good nation can be secured under that arrangement. A country with over 200 million people, and over 300 ethnic nationalities cannot thrive and prosper under deceit and acrimony.
“The only solution to the security impasse in the country is to go back to regionalism, where each segment of the region would control the security of their respective region. The federal police are overstretched. Let the local and state governments have their police as it is done in the developed world.”