Nine gunmen, suspected to be members of a kidnap gang, in an audacious rescue operation, Wednesday, in Warri, Delta State, ambushed a Nigeria Prisons Service, NPS, Hilux van, and shot dead three warders.
The gangsters, numbering about nine, also successfully freed two notorious kidnap suspects, identified as Rufus and Frank, while one of the inmates lost his life in the emancipation mission.
Two of the critically wounded warders were rushed to the Central Hospital, Warri after the about 45-minute encounter. The names of the five warders that escorted the inmates were given as Lawrence Edore, Ochei Ifeanyi, driver, Enemo, Efe Onakpoya and Oyibo.
There was confusion as people ran helter-skelter following the staccato of gunshots.
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Vigilant youths of Okere community, Warri South Local Government Area, re-arrested three of the inmates and handed them over to prisons officials.
Our source said the gunmen waylaid a prisons’ van conveying criminal suspects to court at about 8.30 am, Wednesday, on Esisi Road, Warri and opened fire at the warders. Esisi is a popular street in Warri
The gunmen, operating in a Lexus Special Utility Vehicle, SUV and one Toyota Camry car, monitored the prisons officials, as they left the premises.
According to our source, “The warders had left Okere area and were heading towards the “A” Police Division area, where the court is located when the gun men struck.”
“All the warders were shot, but two died on the spot, while one died later. Two of the inmates, believed to be notorious kidnappers escaped while youths in the area stopped three from escaping”
The third warder who gave up the ghost battled to stay alive, but because of the enormous blood lost and severity of the bullet wounds, he eventually surrendered.
Area Commander, Nigeria Police Force, Warri, Mr. Hussani Rabiu, an Assistant Commissioner of Police, ACP, confirmed the incident when contacted by Vanguard, but said the police were yet to be briefed about the incident by the prisons authorities at at 11.40 am.
He, however, said the police cordoned off the Effurun roundabout when they got wind of the attack, but the gunmen escaped through the Petroleum Training Institute, PTI/Uti road, Effurun.