Armed Militants Burn Prison, Free 1,844 Prisoners, Bomb Police Headquarters in Owerri, Nigeria

Published April 7, 2021

Armed Militants Burn Prison, Free 1,844 Prisoners, Bomb Police Headquarters in Owerri, Nigeria

A major uprising broke out on April 5 in Owerri, Imo State, as thousands of prisoners from Owerri Correctional Center were freed, after heavily armed insurgents attacked the prison.

The militants used dynamite, heavy explosives and sophisticated guns during the attacks. The armed combatants also attacked the Police Station in Owerri, while firing consistently with AK-47 rifles and explosives, released some prisoners detained in the SCID cells and set ablaze many vehicles parked at the headquarters premises, including the SCID office building. The operation lasted close to three hours.

Insurgents used explosives on Imo State Police headquarters, which shares a common perimeter fence with the prisons, destroying some parts of the buildings. Many vehicles parked in the premises were also burnt.

Njaba Local Government Area secretariat was also attacked, with the doors, windows and vehicles parked in the premises damaged. The attacks were linked to the militants who broke into the Owerri Correctional Center. The militants also allegedly set ablaze military checkpoints along Onitsha Road and the one around Ugwu Orji in Owerri North Local Government Area. Military men on sighting the militants, took to their heels and abandoned their duty post in fear for their lives.

The insurgents who stormed the prison at about 0215hrs on Monday, April 5, 2021, gained entrance into the yard by using explosives to blast the administrative block. The militants arrived at the prison in large numbers in several pick-up vans and buses, armed with sophisticated weapons and immediately engaged the security personnel on duty in a fierce gun battle.

Several police stations have been attacked in southeastern Nigeria since January, with large amounts of ammunition stolen. No groups have claimed responsibility for the attacks.

The uprising in Owerri provides a powerful example for revolutionaries around the world of the possibilities for insurgents to overwhelm state authorities and liberate people held in bondage.