By Joshua Odeyemi

The Nigeria Prisons Service (NPS) has confirmed that six inmates were shot dead by security operatives while trying to escape from the Abakaliki Prison during a jailbreak last Thursday.

The Controller-General of Prisons, Ja'afaru Ahmed, made this confirmation while addressing the press during a courtesy visit to the Governor of Ebonyi State, David Umahi on Friday 19th August, 2016, according to a statement from Prisons spokesman, DCP Francis Enobore on Sunday.

"Regrettably, at the end of the fracas, six prisoners died and 10 others were injured.

"Six prison officers were severely injured. However, both staff and inmates are responding to treatment with some already discharged from the hospital," Enobore quoted the Prisons boss as saying.

There were unconfirmed reports on Friday that 14 inmates were actually shot dead with several others severely injured.

Speaking on the situation, the Controller-General said trouble started when prison officials were about to carry out routine cell-search in the morning but the inmates in a particular cell resisted the exercise.

"They suddenly became riotous, broke other cells and released the inmates. They eventually broke into the workshop to arm themselves with dangerous weapons and severely attacked some staff trapped in the yard while others made for the main gate and pulled it down.

"Meanwhile, the prisons Armed Squad and men from other security agencies on guard outside the perimeter fence were firing warning shots to deter the rampaging inmates but a number of them rushed out to escape.

"The bold attempt was resisted by the combined team of armed personnel who prevented what would have turned into a catastrophic security situation had the inmates succeeded in escaping," Ahmed disclosed.

He, however, added that no prisoner escaped during the jailbreak.

Meanwhile, the Controller-General has set up a 3-man panel to carry out a detailed investigation into the incident in order to establish both the immediate and remote causes of the riot.

Abakaliki prison was built in 1946 with an installed capacity of 387 inmates but as at Thursday 18th August 2016, the prison had a population of 920 prisoners out of which 811 are awaiting trial Prisoners leaving just 109 as convicted inmates.

The alleged ring leader had spent about 9 years awaiting trial, Daily Trust gathered.

The Abakaliki jailbreak was the fourth jailbreak in the country in the last three months with many of the escapees still at large.

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