The Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, says operatives of the Eastern Security Network carried out Monday attacks in Owerri, the Imo State capital.
Adamu condemned the alleged act by the security arm of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra. IPOB, however, has since denied being behind the attacks.
The IGP in a statement signed by Force Public Relations Officer, Frank Mba, ordered the immediate deployment of additional units of Police Mobile Force and other Police Tactical Squads to the state to strengthen security in the state and prevent further attacks on security formations or any other critical national infrastructure in the state.
MoneyCentral had earlier reported that gunmen attacked the Imo State Police Command headquarters and the Owerri Correctional Prison.
Scores of vehicles were razed around 1am on Monday when gunmen attacked Owerri and freed at least 1,500 inmates.
The hoodlums also freed the suspects in almost all the cells at the State Criminal Investigation Department of the command.
The attackers, who stormed the facility gained entrance into the yard by using explosives on the administrative block.
They were said to have arrived the centre in their large numbers 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.
Reacting in the statement on Monday, the IGP said, “Preliminary investigations have revealed that the attackers, who came in their numbers with sophisticated weapons such as General Purpose Machine Guns (GPMGs), Sub-Machine Guns (SMGs), AK49 rifles, Rocket Propelled Grenades (RPGs), Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs), are members of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB)/Eastern Security Network (ESN).
“The attempt by the attackers to gain access to the Police armoury at the Headquarters was totally and appropriately resisted by Police operatives on duty who repelled the attackers and prevented them from breaking-in and looting the armoury.
“The armoury is thus intact! Similarly, the police suffered no human casualty, apart from a police Constable who sustained a minor bullet wound on his shoulder,” the statement partly read.
The statement was titled, ‘Imo Attack – IGP Deploys Security Reinforcement Squads, Sets Up Special Investigation Team (SIT)’.
The IGP also directed the Commissioner of Police in the state and a new Special Investigation Team “to carry out holistic investigations into the incident with a view to fishing-out the perpetrators and bringing them to justice”.
“The IGP, who described the deliberate and criminal attack on security operatives as an attack on the soul of our nation, has enjoined leaders in Imo State, the South-East and other parts of the country to speak out against the unfolding violence and criminality.
“The IGP calls on citizens to avail the Police and other security agencies with useful information that can assist in identifying and arresting the criminals.
“He vowed that the perpetrators will be brought to book, noting that the Force is doing all within its powers to curb the activities of unscrupulous elements hell-bent on threatening the unity, safety, security and socio-economic wellbeing of Nigerians,” the statement added.
MEANWHILE, security agencies have launched a massive hunt for 1,884 runaway inmates.
Six escaped inmates have returned to the facility while 35 others did not escape during the attack.
The spokesman, NCoS, Francis Enobore, disclosed in a statement that 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.
The statement titled, ‘Owerri custodial centre attacked by unknown gunmen,’ explained that six inmates have so far voluntarily returned to the facility while 35 inmates refused to escape from custody during the attack.
“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.
“He equally directed all officers attached to custodial facilities to remain vigilant at this trying moment in our history,” the statement noted.