The armed men arrived at the prison by buses and pickups. They used explosives to get into the jail. The men fired at the prison guards
“I can confirm that the Imo state’s command for the Nigerian prison service was attacked by unknown armed men in Owerri,” spokesman James Madugba told the AFP news agency.
– The situation is under control, he emphasizes.
The biggest in history
No one has claimed responsibility for the attack on the Owerri prison. The prison escape is the largest in the history of West Africa. Nigeria is the most populous country in Africa. The prisons in the country are overcrowded. 70 percent of the inmates are kept locked up for years while they wait for trial.
Biafras indigenous people
Police believe it is the separatist group Indigenous People of Biafra (Biafra’s Indigenous People) who are behind it.
Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) has recently published photos on social media, showing people freaking out with military training.
The IPOB is an illegal group that the Nigerian state views as terrorists. The group consists of the ethnic group Iboere. The Imo prison is located in the region where the group is fighting for an independent state.
IPOB spokesman Emmanuel Powerful has sent a statement to AFP denying that they have anything to do with this attack. In the statement, he calls the accusations lies.
Bloody civil war
The conflict in the southern state of Imo has been raging since Nigeria became independent from Britain in 1967. It led to a bloody civil war that lasted 30 months.
There are several ethnic groups living in the region, but the inhabitants make up a majority. Since Nigeria declared independence, there has been conflict between the country’s authorities and Iboe separatists.