An attempted jail break in Calabar prison, Cross River State, has been foiled by officers and men of the Nigerian Prisons Service (NPS) with the support of the Army and Police Force.
Trouble started when on the 20th of February, 2015 at about 1100hrs, two cells housing some awaiting trial prisoners where opened, as a normal routine, for the inmates to take their bath.
About four of them walked up to an escort staff to complain that they were tired of staying in the prison awaiting justice and wanted to be taken to court.
The staff on duty appealed to them to exercise patience for courts to resume seating as they were currently on strike but this fell on deaf ears. Other prisoners soon joined in the agitation to be taken to court and in a spontaneous reaction, pounced on the staff, advanced through the Chief Warders office, destroying all the adjoining doors before gaining access to the gate lodge.
They eventually broke into the armory situated in the gate lodge and collected three riffles, went to the yard and started firing sporadically.
Warning shots fired by armed men on guard duty outside the perimeter fence did not deter them. The prisoners rather went to the rear of the perimeter fence and fired several shots at the wall to weaken the blocks.
Thereafter they used a concrete slab to hit open the weakened wall, making large hole through which they jumped out still firing at anything in sight.
They were however engaged in a gun battle with the Armed Squad personnel assisted by the Army and Policemen and at the end, 8 of the prisoners died, 17 were injured, 4 staff were also injured with one of them having serious wounds.
Others were arrested and returned to the yard. No prisoner escaped and all the riffles were recovered. The situation is now fully under control and normalcy has since returned to the yard.
The Controller General of Prisons, Dr. Peter Ekpendu, mni stated that but for the gallantry of the armed men on duty, the mass escape bid would have resulted in a monumental security disaster as over 500 out of the 638 awaiting trial prisoners at the time of the incident, are charged for capital offences such as armed robbery, murder, kidnapping etc.
He further stated that while the Prisons Service is devoted to humane treatment and correction of the inmates, his administration is committed to putting a stop to the wave jail breaks in the country, hence such attempts would never be tolerated.