The Ministry of Interior says 1,993 inmates were freed when thugs attacked two prisons in Edo State on Monday, October 19, 2020.
Thugs hijacked the ongoing peaceful #EndSARS protests in the state to attack custodial centres in Benin City and Oko, setting the inmates free.
At least three police stations were also looted and burnt down in a wave of violence that forced Governor Godwin Obaseki to impose a state-wide 24-hour curfew on Monday.
"They came in large number, bearing dangerous weapons and attacked the officers on guard duty.
"They were unmistakable on their mission, which was to force the cells open, free the inmates and carry out other nefarious activities," Interior Ministry spokesperson, Mohammed Manga, said on Tuesday.
Manga said most of the inmates held at the centres are convicted criminals serving terms for various criminal offences, awaiting execution, or standing trial for violent crimes.
He cautioned that setting the inmates free holds grave consequences for the society and branded them an "intolerable threat to national and communal security".
He assured residents of Edo State that authorities have already started tracking and arresting the escaped inmates before they do any harm.
"Anyone who notices any person or persons that might have escaped from the custodial centres should, as a patriotic duty, inform the nearest security agency," he said.
Manga also said security has also been strengthened at other correctional centres to prevent a repeat of what happened on Monday.