Gunmen in the early hours of Monday, April 5, set the correctional facility in Owerri, the Imo State capital, on fire.
It was gathered that the gunmen struck the prison and freed an unconfirmed number of inmates and suspects as heavy gunfire also rang through the area.
Amnesty International said over the weekend that Owerri Correctional Centre had 2,156 inmates against its installed capacity of 548 people.
The level of destruction and casualty figures were not immediately available, but pictures shared on Twitter showed heavy smokes billowing from what posters said were the scenes of the attack that lasted for more than two hours.
Imo police spokesman Godson Orlando said he was unaware of the violence, hours after reports had spread across social media with residents across different sections of Owerri reporting hearing heavy gunshots and explosions.
He told People’s Gazette: “I am just hearing it from you now. I will have to wait until later today to find out what happened.”
A spokesman for the correctional headquarters in Abuja did not immediately return a request seeking comments.
Thousands of inmates have reportedly escapes during a prison break in Owerri as the state's CID office was set ablaze. pic.twitter.com/K3lGH0yUDq
— Instablog9ja (@instablog9ja) April 5, 2021
The attack came as confrontation intensified between Nigerian security forces and adherents of the IPOB separatist movement across the South-East. Since January, there have been repeated clashes between Nigerian troops and IPOB elements in Imo, Rivers, Abia and Anambra, with both sides denying responsibility for civilian casualties.
Those behind the violence and their motive could not be ascertained before this report was filed.